New Year 2013, Turkey

When I lived in Japan, come New Year, my Japanese friends would tell me that how you spend the first day of the new year is indicative of how you will spend the rest of the year. Turkish people, I learned, share the same belief. If you just spent your New Year’s day hungover and lying on the couch watching VH1 or a marathon of Hallmark movies, you probably want to reserve taking on this belief until next year ;). Somehow I adopted it and haven’t taken the time to undo it, so New Year’s day I like to do something fun and active with people I love. Last year, I went hiking in South Mountain Reservation with my Turkish friends Burçin and Hatice and Hatice’s family. It wasn’t lost on Hatice, her family, nor myself that we were together again this New Year’s day…In Turkey!
Beliefs are powerful!
So despite our late night revelries and 4am bedtime, this is what we did with the intention to carry it through the year:

  • Took a wooded walk (in a beautiful area called Sapanca)
  • Ate delicious, fresh food and drank tea and coffee
  • Spent time with people we love
  • Gave and received Reiki (we hosted a Reiki circle last night (January 1) for the local neighborhood women)

Turkey_NYsEve2013
Now, here are some things I learned about spending New Year’s Eve in Turkey:

  • Spend the evening with your family or friends
  • Give small gifts (books, CDs, clothes or cute accessories are typical)
  • Dine on roast turkey, pickled tomatoes and dolma‘s
  • Wear red knickers (that were given to you by someone else)
  • Carry a passport in your pocket (if you wish to travel in the new year)

Hatice’s mom (I love her!) blessed me with the gift of red knickers, but between all the dolma-eating, Rakı sipping and gift sharing, I didn’t get around to putting them on, so I tucked them in next to my passport and carried them with me in my little shoulder bag.

We greeted 12am coming up the escalators to Nişantaşı, a quarter of Istanbul famous for its shops and cafes. People kissed and shouted, “Happy New Year” in Turkish –I still haven’t learned it, sorry! We joined the throng and squeezed ourselves into the crowd following the music towards the heart of a street party (a DJ was playing music on an outdoor stage). A little while later, with some effort, we popped ourselves back out to walk along Abdi İpekçi Street, Turkey’s most expensive shopping street. We finished the night with Starbucks and the drive back to Izmit for our 4am bedtime.

Noted moment New Year’s Eve 2013?  Pre-dinner belly dancing lesson in the kitchen. Dear Belly Dancing, you are elusive, but I am determined to get you!
Once is enough moment New Year’s Eve 2013? Being sandwiched between revelers doing the fake-horseriding move to Gangnam Style. Why can’t I escape this song? Why?!
Noted moment New Year’s Day 2013?  The flock of starlings dancing in the sky.

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