Hidirellez is an annual festival, held to herald thenew spring and brings good fortune to those who celebrate. The history ofHidirellez stretches back many thousands of years in the area and is acandidate for UNESCO´s list of intangible cultural heritage. Many of thetraditions of Hidirellez are unique to specific areas. Many smaller towns andvillages celebrate Hidirellez in early May. Typically held on the 5-6 May,Hidirellez celebrations in Istanbul and Edirne are some of the biggest and mostjubilant in Turkey. If fire leaping, dancing and singing to traditional folkmusic are on your bucket list, this is the festival for you!

A brief history:

Hidirellez celebrates the day the Prophets Hizir(Khidr) and Ilyas (Elijah) met on Earth. Hidirellez is a festival that heraldsthe arrival of spring throughout the Turkic world, with variations occurring inBulgaria, Georgia and the Balkans. In ancient times, similar celebrationsoccurred at the change of seasons throughout Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Persia andother Mediterranean societies.


Spring is a time for hope, new life and rebirth. Atime where hope abounds and the cold winter earth and her sparseness give wayto healthy grasses and revived fields. Ceremonies performed to honor Hizir,believed to be a healer and Ilyas, believed to be a bringer of water involvefire, feasting and dancing.

The ceremonies:

Hidirellez is famous for challengingbelievers to leap over a fire pit. Leaping over the pit 3 times, whilstrepeating incantations and rhymes is said to ward off bad illness and diseasein the coming year. 

Bathing in a nearbywater source is believed to bring good health for the year ahead by cleansingone of any impurities. This is more likely to be found in smaller towns andvillages, though the ceremony in Edirne is by the shores of the river. Othermodern practices include writing future wishes and sending them into the sea orriver as offerings. 

Another custom is tofeast on lamb. Lamb meat, raised in nature, is said to be full of the nutrientsand good health of the earth. Lamb meat should be widely available at festivalsacross Turkey. While at home, Hidirellez is also a point at which to give yourhome a thorough Spring Cleaning, removing any chance of bad luck or health andmaking room for new prospects with the new season. 

Hidirellez is a fascinating, excitingfestival that ushers in a new season and brings together people from all walksof life. It is a celebration of new life, the new challenges and pathways weeach find ourselves on. If you happen to be visiting Turkey in spring,definitely look for the festivals.