Less than 10 minutes from my apartment lies a magical place. The streets are filled with toy soldiers, sparkling lights and even a Christmas Tree (or more accurately ‘A New Years Tree ‘ for the Turks). Stars and lights hang from restaurant windows, store entrances are decorated with ornaments and to my surprise , even familiar Christmas music plays in the stores. For this homesick American, it is to my sheer delight to see familiar symbols, decor and music to celebrate the holiday season in the Istanbul neighborhood of Nisantasi.
In Turkey, New Years Eve is celebrated with the same decor and traditions of Christmas. Many homes have trees decorated with lights and ornaments. Presents are exchanged. Dinner consists of Turkey, special cinnamon and clove rice, as well as Turkish staples. Families spend the day together. Children rejoice in anticipation of new toys. Instead of Hot Wine or Apple Cider, the Turkish drink Sahlep (My friends calls it ‘pancake in a cup’) is sold on every corner.
We celebrated Hanukkah with our new menorah, a treasure we found at the Antique bazaar in our neighborhood. We lit the candles each night and crawled into bed to watch the lights sparkle. I love this time of year. It is full of warmth, beauty and surprises. Whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope you are surrounded by love, happiness and holiday cheer! Wishing you a joyous, healthy and exciting 2013! xo adrian