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German Christmas in Istanbul

– a personal Story by Lena​

I was born and raised in Berlin, where I grew up with Turkish neighbors, classmates and friends. When I was just four years old, my mother decided to visit Istanbul together with our lovely neighbors, giving me the opportunity to pick up the Turkish language as a child already. Having grown up somewhere in between German and Turkish culture, I decided to relocate to Istanbul before settling down.

However, since the major part of the population in Turkey is Muslim and religious and cultural diversity are on the decline, Christmas is not really celebrated – an unfortunate development, considering Istanbul’s fascinating and multicultural history. Christians in Turkey are mostly orthodox and therefore celebrate Christmas on January 7th, not in December, as we do in Germany. However, many Turkish people are beginning to put up Christmas trees in their homes and gift presents – a trend mostly condemned by conservative voices.

The German and Austrian schools in Istanbul have been organizing Christmas markets and other Christmas-themed events each year, so, despite being far from home, some people get to enjoy a bit of festive atmosphere, including Christmas songs, Glühwein and Bratwurst.

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