Green days commence!

Green days commence!

Green days commence

For spring to come, one must first get rid of winter. With the changing climate, the arrival of spring has become a bit tricky, it seems to come, and suddenly goes away, sometimes even interrupted with snowfalls. The moment the sun shines, a sudden rupture of sky and showers follow. Even if so, nothing can stop the festivities on Hıdrellez day, May 6, when people go out for a picnic to celebrate the spring. Despite climate change, Hıdrellez marks the official opening of the summer days, or the green days.

During the Ottoman period, the calendar was perceived as having two main seasons, summer and winter. According to this perception, today is the first day of summer. The celebration of the day of Hıdrellez commences on the night of 5th, and it was officially considered as the end of the winter season, and the period starting from May 6 until Nov. 7 was called Hızır Days, literally green days. The period from Nov. 8 to May 5 used to last until Hıdrellez as the winter period. The name Hızır, which also means green, comes from the Arabic word “hadır/hadr/hıdr.” The pronunciation of the Arabic letter “d” as “dz” caused it to be pronounced both ways in Turkish. According to the belief, Hızır is an immortal human being, therefore he brings life wherever he goes and comes to the rescue of those in trouble. This is why it is said that those who come to the rescue in difficult times are like Hızır, a blessing that comes as a Godsend.

It is believed that Hızır, or Hıdır meets with his counterpart Elijah for only one day a year, on the day of Hıdrellez. When they meet, nature blooms. According to the belief, while Hızır represents the earth and the greens, Elijah, or Elias represents water and the sea. When the two come together, nature comes alive, greenery flourishes, fields are fertile and trees bear fruit.

Water, Tree, Fire

Three important elements that symbolize Hıdrellez are trees, fire and water. In many settlements in Anatolia there is a hilly green area, almost all of them are called Hıdırlık hills. On these hills there is sometimes a tomb of a saintly person, and almost always a wishing tree. In settlements that are not by the water, one goes up to these hills and ties a rag to the wishing tree, which has a certain attributed holiness. But the real wish-making takes place by the sea, along streams, on the banks of rivers, and the wishes are left in the water before dawn. If there is no waterfront, the nearest rose tree is the place to go late at night. Wishes are written and buried at the base of the rose tree. The symbol of the rose is connected to St. George, which in the Orthodox calendar is St George Day, falling on April 23, which is celebrated exactly in the same manner by Orthodox Christians. Of course, while wishes are made for a bright future, one must get rid of past troubles. That is when the fire steps in. Huge fires are lit to get rid of old troubles. In villages, old wicker mats fuel this fire, sometimes along with broken furniture, or old pieces of wood. With the belief that all troubles will be nestled in the weave of the straw, old rags and straws feed and grow the fire for new trouble-free days. Jumping over the fire, troubles will burn and spill out too. It is believed that the person jumping over the fire will be purified and cleansed. In summary, Hıdrellez is celebrated throughout the day and night in the spiral of water, fire and trees.

Swing and Roll

Hıdrellez means going out to the countryside and having a picnic. In the past, during family picnics, ropes, pillows, cloths, whatever was needed to build a swing would be thrown in the back of the car, the picnic place would be chosen in a place that had at least one big tree with a strong branch. While the women would lay out the picnic spread, the men would prepare a good swing for the children. The swing would have many suitors on Hıdrellez, and young people and women would also line up. Because Hıdrellez is a time to leave troubles behind. It is believed that as you swing in the air, your troubles will fly away. Of course, when everyone gets tired of swinging, it would be time to eat, and the favorite food would be the vine leaf wrapped dolma, to ensure that people would be wrapped with love throughout the year. There are also other superstitions in regard to food. Even if one does not believe in fortune telling, sometimes you just find yourself picking daisies, wondering love me, love me not. To predict the coming year, one needs to have two green spring onions to understand whether the new green days will be lush and green or whether they will dry up. To read the fortune of green onions, cut the stalks of two green onions at an equal level, which you will put in a glass of water or plant them in a pot. Tie a black thread to one and a white thread to the other. It is believed that if the onion with the white thread grows quickly, the coming days will be filled with joy, and vice versa with misery.

There is also the tradition of starting a new batch of yogurt, on Hıdrellez day. To do this, you have to get up early in the morning, collect the dew drops that accumulate on the grass and leaves in trees, and ferment the milk with a spoonful of dew water used as starter. If the milk turns into yogurt, good luck, good fortune and abundant fertility are to come. Why not try it, just in case it works!

Cork of the Week:

The much-awaited weekend for wine lovers is coming on May 11-12. The largest wine tasting event, arranged by Gustobar, will be held at The Marmara Taksim Hotel. Titled CMC-Challenging Master Classes, the event hosts two celebrated world-famous wine experts as judges, Oz Clarke (OBE) from UK and Caro Mauer (MW) from Germany. CMC will also bring in hundreds of different labels side by side — grouped according to their density and grape varieties and not according to their producers at the Walk Around Tasting Hall. Or, if you prefer, you can listen to the best professionals in the wine business on how they make their choices in each category so you can learn and participate in tastings with the experts in Master Classes. There will also be an interesting line of workshops, tasting exquisite bottles ranging from Champagne to Mezcal and Tequila. An event not to be missed. Tickets are available: Program is here:;

Contact Taner Öğütoğlu,