HOLIDAY: Cinco de Mayo and Hıdırellez ?


Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of May) is an interesting holiday in the states. Technically, it is not an American holiday but it is now celebrated widely by eating at a Mexican restaurant while enjoying a margarita (which I am totally not opposed to!). In my high school Spanish class, we would celebrate by making food and celebrating the culture. Interestingly enough, it is not really celebrated in Spanish speaking countries!

Which brings me to the 5th of May here in Turkey…

At dinner the other night with some new Turkish friends, the husband shared a unique childhood memory he had of growing up in Izmir. His friends would all spend the evening of May 5th on the coast. They would light a fire in an old tire (where they got this, I have no idea…) and then take turn jumping over the fire making wishe. Interesting, huh?

Super intrigued, I started asking questions about it. Ultimately, I decided to research it more at home. Here is what I found.

What is Hıdırellez?

Hıdırellez celebrates the beginning of summer. Also called Ruz-ı Hızır (or ready day), it is said that on the day before summer starts, Khidr and Elijah meet on Earth and fulfill the wishes of others. In order to get your wishes fulfilled, it is traditional to jump over a fire.

  • So, who is Khidr?  From what I read, Khidr literally means ‘The Green One’ and he symbolizes freshness of spirit. Some say he was a person or a prophet while others say he was an angel. He is popular in Islamic lore as the people who found the fountain of life and now lives to give wisdom and guidance to those who call on his name.
  • And who is Elijah? Elijah was a prophet of God who was sent to ancient Israel and told them to repent of their sins and return to God. Elijah did not experience death, but instead God took him up to heaven at the end of his life. Most of what I know about him is from the Bible, but as Muslims, Jews, and Christians all share the same history, it is no surprise that he is also found in the Quran.
  • Sidenote: (From my knowledge, Khidr is not found in the Judaism nor the Bible and from the forums I read, he is mentioned only in Quran and the Hadiths.)
Photo credit to Hurriyet News

Where did it come from? Who celebrates it?

Everything I read was very unclear as to the start of this tradition and the main cultures it applied too. The day seems to be celebrated even before Islam and into the early ages of the Balkan areas, Iran, Mesopotamia, and Anatolia. Now is it widely considered a Turkish-Islamic traditions with traditions stemming from different regions.

How is it celebrated?

Hıdırellez is usually celebrated in green, wooded areas, and possibly by tombs. Fresh spring veggies and lamb are the traditional choice of food. Prayers are generally traditional and are recited. Wishes are hung under a rose tree with slips of paper or ribbon. Some believe you must say the Hıdırellez prayer for the wishes to be accepted. However, the most common tradition is to light a fire and jump through it. Jumping through the fire on this day is a sign of goodness and will protect you from disease and injuries. From the prayers and jumping over the fire, it is believed that Khidr will bless you in the places he touches.

Photo credit to Hurriyet News

Prayers recited

Hıdırellez wishes are to be hung from to the branch of rose tree: “Allaah, Lord, the People of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet Muhammad, the Promise or the Rapture” prayer is to be read 39 times by May 5th, the remaining one prayer is read on May 6th.

Photo credit to Sabah News

Here are messages you can send to your Turkish friends for the day:

  • Hıdırellez bayramınız kutlu olsun! Happy Hıdırellez Holiday!
  • Havalar gibi yüreğinizde hep sıcacık olsun. Hıdırellez’de dilekleriniz kabul olsun. Always be warm in your heart like the air. May your wishes at Hıdırellez be accepted.
  • Aylardan Mayıs, günlerden Hıdırellez; gününüz hep güneşli talihiniz hep bol olsun. Hızır gününüz kutlu olsun. From May to May, from day to day; Always have plenty of sunshine for your day. Happy day!

So that’s it! Having lived in Istanbul for 2 years already, I was surprised to hear about this holiday! I mean, I know there is so much more to learn about the culture and holidays then I was able to learn in my short time of living there. However, jumping over a fire seems like one I would have heard about for sure!

Turkey readers:

  • Have you heard about this holiday?
  • Do you celebrate or know someone who still celebrates this holiday?

Non-Turkey readers:

  • What do you think of this holiday? Have you heard of it before?
  • Do you have any friends who celebrate this day?


Photo credit to Sabah News

Read more about it:

This would be the most interesting post: Posta News (Open in Google Chrome for English translations)

Sabah News (Open in Google Chrome for English translations)

Hurriyet (Open in Google Chrome for English translations)

Wikipedia – Hıdırellez –ıdırellez (Can’t be used in Turkey right now)

Wikipedia – Khidr – (Can’t be used in Turkey right now)