Turkish Halloween; Bocuk Gecesi
Bocuk gecesi means the night of the bocuk in Turkish language. On the night of January 6, north western Turkish people do a festival almost like the Halloween. They just use the pumpkin in a different way. Rather than carving them, they are making a tasty dessert to serve the people coming at their houses. Here is the story;
Due to the similarity of Božić (bojic) in the languages of Thrace, Bocuk night is believed to be inspired from the Christian festival celebrated on the night of January 6, the day of baptism. However, there is a Serbian historian named Tihomir Đorđević who claims it is an ancient Turkish festival in his book named Nas Narodni Zivot. The story told behind the festival is way better to talk about rather than its origins.
According to the old people of the area, Bocuk is a woman, who was 80 years old. She dives into the black magic to get younger. She is believed to have carried an egg in her armpit for 21 days. When the egg hatches and the hen grows, she cooks it in 6 fireplaces and eats it. That makes her 18 again and rather than taking a good date with a handsome boy, we find her visiting all the stalls and milking the cows naked! People believe that those cows will never be able to produce milk again. To avoid it, people of Thrace made a pumpkin pie and put it on top of their houses so the Bocuk woman could eat for it is the favorite food of her. Besides, people gathered in the houses and talked about her and the people who claimed to had seen her before till the morning light. It is believed to be unlucky to wander around on that night. Like trick or treat, people used to use starch to paint their faces white like ghosts and scared the people waiting at their windows for the Bocuk Woman! People are preparing pumpkin dessert to serve to people coming at their windows. In the past, they would make lanterns of pumpkins and walk in the dark streets of their villages to scare the Bocuk Woman.
This old festival is popular again in north western villages of Turkey since 2006. For the last 3 years, the number of attenders are increasing so much that Culture and Tourism Ministry of Edirne province applied to UNESCO to get their local festival listed in. Even though people complain about the traffic and the crowd created in Camlica village of Edirne province on that night, it seems like the Bocuk Night will get bigger and bigger every year thanks to the internet and social media.
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