WHAT DOES CHRISTMAS MEAN TO PEOPLE LIVING IN TURKEY?
Bright shining lights, delicious food, colourfully wrapped presents, highly decorated trees, and a jolly man dressed in red – these descriptions will make most of us think of Christmas. However, in Turkey these celebrations represent New Year’s Day. SAT-7 TÜRK is helping end confusion by sharing the true message of Christmas in Turkey.
As a predominantly Muslim country, Christmas is not recognised as a national holiday in Turkey. However, Santa Claus and Christmas trees are still part of Turkish New Year’s celebrations. The similarities in the commercial way Christmas is celebrated in the West and New Year’s celebrations in Turkey means that many Turkish people believe they are the same thing. For this reason, SAT-7 TÜRK’s Christmas programs are focused on educating Turkish viewers about the true meaning of the season.
This year, SAT-7 TÜRK’s youth program Turning Point is explaining the advent period and its meaning, bringing the message of Christ’s birth to thousands of viewers.
While the general Turkish public will be going to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the 0.2 percent of the population that is Christian will be marking the birth of their Lord and Saviour in their own unique ways.
Turkey has an incredibly diverse Christian population. There are many indigenous Christian communities and denominations, such as Armenians and Syriacs, Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic. There are also Turkish Christian believers from Muslim backgrounds who, if possible, will be taking days off to celebrate Christmas with their churches and friends. However, some may have to mark Christmas privately due to pressure from their family and friends, or will have to remember the birth of Christ in isolation due to a lack of Christian community.
Furthermore, there are thousands of Christian refugees from Iran and Syria, who have fled their countries due to religious persecution. For some Persian-speaking refugees, celebrating Christmas in Turkey will be an expression of freedom as they can celebrate openly without fear. While there may be variations in traditions, Christians across Turkey will be unified in reflecting on the significance of a King born in a manger.
SAT-7’s Turkish and Persian-speaking channels will broadcast unique Christian programming over the Christmas period which not only provide comfort and support to isolated Christians living in Turkey but also educate others about Christian traditions and beliefs, dispelling myths and confusion.
Please pray for SAT-7 viewers in Turkey, that many will come to know the true meaning of Christmas this year.