Sunday, September 7, 2008


Shortly after we arrived in Turkey we noticed a little fellow in what we thought was a “band uniform” standing on the street corner with an older man, probably his dad. The little guy, who appeared to be 6 or 7, was wearing a satin uniform with a fancy cape and hat; to us, it looked like maybe what a drum major would be wearing. Within the next couple of months we saw several other boys wearing similar outfits. Needless to say, we were very puzzled.

Finally we learned that these young boys, who soon were to be circumcised, were participating in a tradition unlike anything we have in our country. In Turkey, boys are usually circumcised somewhere between the ages of 2 and 12, and the family plans a big ceremony and feast to honor this event. Family, friends and neighbors are all invited. All bring presents, which are placed on the boy’s bed in his room, which has been festively decorated. The boy wears a special costume that consist of a suit, a cape, a scepter, a sash and a special hat with the Turkish word “Mashallah” on it, which means “What wonders Allah has willed” or “God preserve him” or “Wonderful!”

When the boys appear in costume on the streets, the onlookers know what is going to be taking place – which actually is considered a step to manhood for the little fellow – and good wishes and coins are often given by passersby. On the morning of the event, the children of all the guests are taken for a tour in cars or, if they are in a rural area, on horseback or in carts. A group of musicians follow this “parade,” making happy music.

Eventually the boy is brought into his special room, circumcised usually by a surgeon, and to ease his pain there are music, jokes, and lots of presents to open. Words from the Koran are read, and the feast of wonderful Turkish food begins.

Why do I tell you all this? Because I have a darling little 5-year old great-grandson who is shortly to be circumcised. And in thinking of the pain he will be going through, it reminded me that Turkish boys can expect lots of gifts to help ease the pain, so I have decided to find a really good gift for my little guy. I can’t do much, but at least I can do something!

And who is this little fellow? It’s little Tyler, who actually doesn’t look like this anymore, but this picture of him in HIS costume was so cute I just had to use it!
A special thanks to Serif Yenen in Istanbul for the use of the circumcision photo. If you are ever lucky enough to plan a trip to Turkey, use this fellow’s travel service for help and good advice.

No comments: