What is Hidirellez ?
Hidirellez is one of the most important bayrams in Turkey and celebrates the arrival of spring. The period between May 6 and November 8 was classed as summer, called the “Days of Hızır”, and the period between November 8 and May 6 was winter, called the “Days of Kasım”. Therefore, May 6th represents the end of winter and the start of summer, a cause for celebration.
On the day of Hidirellez , Prophets Hızır (Al-Khadir) and Ilyas (Elijah) are believed to have met on earth. Hidirellez falls on 6th May for the Gregorian calender and 23rd April (St George’s Day) for the Julian calender.
The ancient Turks had many rituals that celebrated spring and summer. Many of these traditions came from nomads in Central Asia before spreading west into Turkey.
Turkey was also greatly influenced by the majority Christian religion of the time. One of those elements was the cult of St. George which has been blended into the cult of Hızır.
There is a delicious irony that the far-right groups of the UK spend a large amount of time claiming to be the direct heirs of a Turkish/Syrian soldier!
One belief suggests that Hızır has attained immortality by drinking the water of life. He wanders the earth, especially in the spring, and helps people in difficulty. People see him as a source of health and vitality, as the festival takes place in spring, a time of new life. This take place after the three Cemres.
- Hızır rushes to the aid of people, who are in difficulty and grants peoples’ wishes.
- He always helps well-meaning, benevolent people.
- Brings plenty and wealth wherever he stops.
- He brings remedies to those who are troubled and health to the sick.
- Helps plants to grow, animals to reproduce, and human beings to grow strong
- Helps improve peoples’ fortune.
- He is the symbol of good omens and good fortune.
- Has the God-given power of working miracles.
Before Hidirellez Day, houses are cleaned from top to bottom, since people think that Hızır will not visit houses that are dirty. New clothes and shoes are bought.
Giving alms, fasting and offering animals as a sacrifice are traditions in some parts of Anatolia to make prayers and wishes come true.
Hıdrellez celebrations are often performed in green, wooded places, near water, or near a tomb or shrine. Eating fresh spring plants, lamb’s meat or lamb’s liver is another custom in Hıdrellez. It is believed that eating the first lamb of spring will bring health and cure the sick. It is also believed that picking flowers or plants in the countryside, boiling them and drinking the water will cure all illnesses, and that the water obtained rejuvenates and beautifies anyone who washes with it for forty days.
Various practices are performed on Hıdrellez night in the belief that Hızır will bring blessing and abundance to the places he visits. Food bowls, pantries and purses are left open. Those who want a house, vineyard or garden believe that Hızır will help them obtain these things if they make a small model of what they want. Wishes, prayers and money are also written on paper and tied to a rose bush. Sometimes colourful pieces of cloth are used.
Hıdrellez also offers a chance to be forgiven of sins. This is done by jumping over a fire. In addition to clearing the slate, jumping over a fire on the eve of Hıdırellez is believed to be a cure-all of sickness and the “evil eye,”.
Ceremonies to improve peoples’ luck are also widespread at this time. The night before Hıdrellez, young girls who want to improve their luck gather in a green place or near water. They place some of their belongings, such as a ring, earring or bracelet in an earthenware jar and close the jar with fine muslin. They then they put the jar at the bottom of a rose tree. Early in the morning, they approach the jar and drink coffee with milk and pray for their peace and wishes to come true. They then open the fortune jar. As they remove the objects from the jar, they recite verses and poems. This practice, peculiar to Hıdrellez, differs according to the different regions.
Hıdrellez is a joyful celebration and everyone will either play music or dance. Leading up to the exciting fire-jumping ritual which takes place late at night.