newyearArriving in Turkey in the days leading up to the New Year, it will look as if they've left the Christmas decorations up everywhere, except that actually those trees and other decoartions are to celebrate New Year, the Turks having slowly absorbed almost all the traditions of the Western Christan except the religious ones and then timeshifted them to the New Year. 

"Mutlu Yıllar" say the those banners strung across the street. Happy New Year!

Most of the four and five-star hotels will serve turkey with all the trimmings on New Year's Eve. Their websites will have the details. You'll probably need to book ahead and prices are rarely cheap.

Increasingly there are New Year celebrations all around the country although predominantly in İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir and the coastal resorts. In deepest Anatolia you shouldn't expect to find much awareness of the event and certainly no alcohol with which to celebrate it.

For the last few years İstanbullus have tended to flock to Taksim Square to see in the New Year just as Londoners flock to Trafalgar Square.

This year I can hardly emphasize too strongly how unwise it would be to go anywhere near Taksim Square/Gezi Park. Fast-moving political developments make it almost certain that the police will close the square to everyone. Even if they don't there must be a high risk of trouble. It's a volatile situation far best avoided. Asthmatics, for example, need to be aware that tear gas can cause severe breathing difficulties.

It would be similarly unwise to go near Kızılay Square in Ankara where there have also been street protests. 

It's also as well to be aware that there is a small coterie of hardliners in Turkey who don't think Muslims should be celebrating what they deem a "Christian" holiday whose traditions are inappropriate to Turkey. 

Even if you settle for a nice turkey dinner in your hotel don't forget that 1 January is a public holiday in Turkey which means that banks, post offices and government offices will be closed (most will also close on the afternoon of 31 December too).

Read more:  http://www.todayszaman.com/news-334496-how-christmas-became-the-new-year-the-turkish-christmas-story.html


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