Noel Baba = Santa Claus from Turkey

If you live in Czech Republic, then at Christmas you’re waiting for Ježíšek (Baby Jesus) who comes on 24th December. (Actually, I don’t even know how baby can COME, but once my parents told me, that the Baby Jesus can FLY. Sounds better.)

If you live for example in the United Kingdom or in the USA, then at Christmas you’re waiting for Santa Claus, who comes during the night before Christmas Day, that is on 25th December. But if you live in Turkey, then you’re waiting for…

Noel Baba (Father Noel)

How Santa Got His Job

Have you ever wondered what Santa did before he became Santa? The book How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky was published in Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers in 2002.

How does he look like? Well, this is not surprising because Noel Baba looks like Santa Claus, “as a portly, joyous, white-bearded man—sometimes with spectacles—wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots and carries a bag full of gifts for children”.

Well, surprising is WHEN he comes.

You know, my boyfriend is from Turkey. (Merhaba aşkım, nasılsın?) In Turkey many unexpected things can happen to you because—let’s face it—the country is different. :)

Christmas in a Different Way

It was in 2010, the last day of the year, and I was coming to Turkey. I was buying something at the airport in Istanbul, when suddenly one of the shop assistants said: “Merry Christmas!”

Let me repeat that it was the last day of the year.

I stopped for a while, looked at her and then I was thinking: “Is she joking?” But she didn’t laugh. She meant it. She said “merry Christmas” in the last day of the year. Of course, I asked my boyfriend: “What does it mean?” He explained that Christmas doesn’t really exist in Turkey. Turkish people don’t celebrate it.

BUT—

For Turks the word Christmas means the celebration of the New Year’s Eve! That’s why you can find Christmas trees, decorations, or Santa Claus in December all around the country! They know it, they like it. They just use it in a different way.

So, Noel Baba is…

…the bearer of gifts to children and adults alike for the New Year. Just like the Christian Christmas Holiday, in Turkey, he is expected to leave his gifts under a pine tree called New Year Tree. ~ Wikipedia

Interesting, ha? If you want, you can buy all the Christmas stuff in Turkey. They have EVERYTHING. Ok, ALMOST everything. Why almost? Because in Turkey you can’t find the MOST important X-mas thing ever.

The Christmas Spirit.

You can’t feel it there. Trust me, I tried. The biggest X-mas trees in Istanbul didn’t help me to feel Christmassy inside. Because Turks don’t know what the Christmas Spirit is—they can’t spread it all around. That’s why you can’t feel Christmas there. So, if you LOVE Christmas, do not travel to Turkey at Christmas. Otherwise you’ll be quite disappointed.

Anyway, when my Turkish friends are saying “merry Christmas”, I say the same. :) Oh, and by the way, Saint Nicholas comes from Turkey! Did you know it?

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2 thoughts on “Noel Baba = Santa Claus from Turkey

  1. This was a very interesting post! I did know St. Nicholas was from Turkey. I never really thought of what Christmas might mean there, though. My husband was stationed in Japan year ago, and I have a friend who lives in Japan now. They don’t really celebrate Christmas, either, not being Christian, but they raid Kentucky Fried Chicken every Christmas Eve! It’s a tradition there. So interesting to me. ;)

  2. Hmm agree with this. Daughter is furious about having to go to school on Christmas Day (where are the holidays???). People give gifts on New Years Eve and have decorated trees – my tree is huge – but as a Muslim country what do you expect?

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