As I have said before, I now live in Turkey, in a small village called Selimiye. I live very close to the retired Muhtar (this is the village mayor). His family are regular visitors to his home and I am often invited for tea; it gives me a chance to practice my Turkish.
Anyway, a few weeks ago, his seven year old grandson was circumcised. The next day, he was sitting outside on his grandfathers patio wearing a very baggy shirt and little else. Hot doughnuts were offered to all the visitors who came to visit little Aydin. This is a very important time in a family with sons, and in villages, it is still done when the boys are around seven. In the cities, the boys are more often than not circumcised in the hospital when they are born, but they all get to have a party when they reach seven or so.
There is a big field near our homes and the first sign that a party was going to be held a couple of weeks later was when every available person was in the field, leveling and clearing all the big stones. An access was created to the field and then the tables and chairs were delivered. This was the first sign of how big the party was going to be! I made a rough count and near a thousand, I gave up.
Two days before the party, village women appeared en masse to help start preparing the food. I suppose that every generation has seen this sort of party and just knows what to do. Fires were created to use with the huge pots that will cook the food on the day. No one seemed stressed, in fact, the atmosphere was really fun. Lots of tasting, talking and laughing.
The day before the party, the local bread was made on site. It’s a flat huge round bread cooked on a flat stone. Again, lots of ladies working together to produce a few hundred loaves. It’s wonderful to watch such an amazing community spirit.
Very early, on the day of the party, the fires were lit under the pots slowly cooking beef, chicken, rice and more. People from all around the village started arriving around noon for lunch and kept coming until around 3pm. They sat down and a helper appeared with a bowl of spicy chicken, beef, salad, chips in a yogurt sauce ( sounds strange but tastes wonderful) beans, rice and of course, the flat bread. Coke,Fanta and water were added to the tables. It was wonderful to see every generation from little babies to the very old sitting together and enjoying each others company.
Believe it or not, this was just the warm up to the real party in the evening. People drifted off and there was a short lull before the action really started. Around 7pm, the musicians arrived. A key board player, a violinist, hand held drums and a clarinet player. They set themselves up and after having something to eat, the music began. It was incredibly loud, but heck, everyone in the village was coming, so no one complains about the volume.
Many people really dress for these parties, even if it is in a field! Aydins family all looked wonderful and Aydin wore the traditional boys outfit for this occasion. A white silk suit with an embroidered cape and a little white hat. He was the most important person at the party and if he was not presented with gold coins by the guests, money was pinned on to his suit.
The dancing was wonderful with much traditional style Turkish dancing. The men love to dance in the old Ottaman style. It took me a while to understand why the same pieces of music seemed to be repeated. That was because the men kept wanting to dance with the drummer in their midst and throw money on the floor for the musicians, so of course, the musicians didn’t mind playing the same music.
Food was still being supplied all through the evening along with copious amounts of alcohol, especially Raki. Around midnight, the music ended and people drifted off to their homes fed, watered and happy. It was a wonderful evening and really made me realize how lucky I am to be able to live in this village and share these events. The weddings are treated in the same way and everyone participates, no one is left out. There are probably only a few places left in the world where this still happens and I’m living in one of them!
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