"The Ramadan food exchange" - Today's Zaman

When it comes to sharing homemade or store-bought food, all are included in the food exchanges whether or not they are taking part in the period of fasting.

Turkish tulumba dessert in Istanbul 

Turkish tulumba dessert in Istanbul 

Today's Zaman there was an article written by Kathy Hamilton about how Ramadan is a time when Turkey's community ties become reinforced and stronger.

Through the exchange of food during Ramadan, neighbors show their appreciation and mutual support for one another; "any small spats that may have flared up between residents during the past year are forgotten as dishes change hands."

If there is one thing I have noticed while living in Turkey it is the strong sense of community which people have here. The culture is much more collective than individual, and everyone seems to be looking out for one another. Rather than closing themselves off from the community with big fenced in yards, Turkish families are more likely to be inviting their neighbors over for tea and offering them dinner too. I think that is one of the reasons why I have felt so at home here, because people really make an effort to welcome you and make you feel like you are a part of the community.

After just a few days of experiencing Ramadan in Istanbul, I have seen how supportive people are, regardless of whether they are fasting or not. In the restaurant office where I am interning, people have stopped drinking tea and water at their desks in respect for those who are fasting. Additionally, people who are not fasting invite their fasting co-workers to an iftar meal which they have offered to pay for.

As Hamilton points out in her article, Ramadan is just another excuse for the community to come together, but certainly not the only time it happens.