A Turkish Christmas

A Turkish christmas is impossible right? Most of my friends and family who have never visited Turkey say this. “After all, Turkey is a Muslim country”.

It might be a Muslim country but one thing  the Turks have got down to a fine art, is that where there is money to be made, they will make it. Around 2004, Turkey started becoming popular among ex-pats, hence a new business opportunity for all those restaurants and bars.

It is possible to spend Christmas in Turkey, if you are prepared to move the goal posts a little on your definition of a true Christmas.

Turkish Christmas Weather

This can be hit and miss. I remember one Christmas day sitting in an outside bar with the sun blazing down on me. However another year, takes me back to memories of driving back from Antalya and it was snowing. It could be hot, or it could be cold but your chances of a white Christmas are very slim.

Turkish Christmas

Shopping at Christmas Time in Turkey

You are not going to find streets laden with Christmas lights and a 50 foot Christmas tree in the town square. Neither will you walk in a shop to find  staff wishing you a happy Christmas through false smiles,  while Jingle bells is playing in the background.

You might however stumble upon a place that is selling Christmas items. Just the other day, I stumbled across a shop (actually it was a bar) that was selling small Christmas trees for 150TL (approximately $80). Depends on how much you are willing to spend.

A Turkish Christmas

The Turkish Christmas Dinner

Christmas in TurkeyNow this is where the Turks will pull out all the stops for you. In areas where there are a lot of ex-pats, the restaurants will provide you with a full dinner and entertainment for the day.

Average price is 20 to 50 dollars depending on what is included. If the restaurant has connections, they would have received boxes of Christmas crackers and Paxo stuffing, from ex-pats flying out especially for Christmas.

Depending on the area, pigs in blankets is not a problem either as pork is sold in a few places throughout Turkey.  I suggest that before booking any Christmas dinner in a restaurant, that you ask them specifically what is included.

Entertainment will vary from a live band to the restaurant staff putting on their own little cabaret. Celebrations start roughly around 12 noon and they will go on till the last person leaves at night, or the next morning.

A lot of places will insist that you pre-book your dinner so if you are planning Christmas in Turkey, shop around, compare prices and then book your tickets.

Do It Yourself Christmas in Turkey

As prices are slowly starting to creep up in Turkey, a lot of ex-pats are staying in their Turkish homes and cooking dinner themselves. Once again friends and family would have bought out the essential decorations and food.

A satellite television will provide the festive atmosphere by showing Christmas films and the queen’s speech. Alcohol would have been bought from the supermarket. The best part is you get to fall asleep on the settee half way through the afternoon.

christmas turkey turkish

New Year in Turkey

This is the best bit because the Turks celebrate every New Year like it is 1999. So if you can extend your holiday for 6 days after Christmas, then I guarantee that it will beat any Christmas dinner hands down.

Restaurants and bars will provide buffet dinners and entertainment will laid on. You might even be invited round to someone house, to spend the celebrations with their families. This time though, there is twice the amount of people enjoying the celebrations and it is a coming together of people from two totally different nationalities and religions.

Have you ever experienced a Turkish Christmas? If so, would you recommend it or tell people to stay at home? In what part of Turkey did you celebrate Christmas and was it any different to my experiences I have described above?

Did you know the origins of Santa Claus began in Turkey? Read more about Santa Claus

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Hi. My name is Natalie Sayin and I am the author of The Turkish Travel Blog. I am an Internet addict with a passion for history. Read my story here or leave a comment below to join the discussions.
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  1. says

    I agree you can always extended to New York.. every country celebrate this special day ;D

  2. says

    I think it often feels nice to be away from all that incessant phony Christmas merchandising and marketing. How many times can one watch different versions of “A Christmas Carol” and how much Christmas music can one tolerate before their heads explode. It often felt forced and somewhat hysterical- so I don’t miss Christmas in my home country. (Of course, I might feel differently I’d been raised in Europe.)
    So for me, Christmas in Turkey is much saner than Christmas in, say, the Midwest of the US.

  3. says

    @greg – yes it is, but unfortunately I can not take credit for it.

    @Nomad. Have to say I agree with you. I feel Christmas in the UK totally lost the meaning and become too commercialised.

    @Sarah. I would like to experience a Christmas in New York actually. I think it would be great fun.

  4. Julia @ Turkey's For Life says

    Well it appears we’ve both got Christmas on our minds! :) The restaurants here do Christmas Day dinners but we’re Christmas at home fans. Like you said, we need to fall asleep on the sofa!

  5. says

    I noticed we had both done a post on Christmas Julia! LOL. Glad you are also a fan of the afternoon nap.

  6. says

    opps I mean extended to New Year. hahah that was typo. I’m so sorry. Anyhow I would love to have you come visit during the holiday season. Just wear a warm jacket. It’s already 20 degree here and it’s not xmas yet.

  7. says

    Got your Comment on our Competition post. Thanks for visiting our site! So great to discover your blog. Love it!

    You could easily adapt this post – or write something along these sentiments – to enter the contest – just 250 words + 1 pic!

    Looking forward to your entry! :)

  8. Anastasia Petrova says

    Hello Natalie!
    My name is Anastasia and i live in Alanya and do the Turkey InterCulture Magazine

    I have found your blog and it impressed me so much!
    I need your permittion to use your articles about Christmas in Turkey and Santa Clause in our online christmas issue in December.

    Please, let me know if it ok for you.

    And of cource under te articles will be you name and blog webpage.

    • says

      Hi Anastasia,

      I sent you an email. I am happy for you to use the articles as long as I am named as the author along with my website address

  9. Ritchie says

    Are there any Christian Churches in Cappadocia or specifically in Urgup or Kayseri who does Christmas Worship Services?

    • says

      Hi Ritchie, One man that can tell you is Duke from He is a Christian himself and also lives in Cappadocia so is bound to know.

  10. fred says

    what day is christmas celebrated in turkey

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