Easter in the East
(Normally, I reserve most content in this blog to be about Turkish culture. However, some of you have asked me about what non-Muslims or Christians do in Turkey. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to film my neighbor Maria Iskenderoglu’s Easter celebration this weekend. I was one of TWO camera crews.)
This weekend, Maria and her husband, Orhan, celebrated another Easter in Turkey with their 5-year old daughter, Sophia Irem. Although it’s usually just the three of them, Maria makes sure Sophia has the chance to enjoy the same traditions she had as a child.
“I like being able to give my daughter American culture, and this is a little bit of American culture,” said Maria, “It’s really hard to teach her American culture [here], but I think it’s a lot easier to teach her American culture in turkey than it is Turkish culture in America.”
This Easter, a Turkish film crew joined the Iskenderoglu’s Easter celebration to learn about the holiday.
“Easter is interesting to me because I don’t know anything about it,” said the 23-year old Merve Ozkoroglu, “It may be normal to Maria’s family, but these traditions are fascinating, especially painting eggs.”
Gulsah Dogan, another student-filmmaker added, “Our friends are documenting other parts of Turkish culture around the country. But we wanted to show our class something from a different culture.”
Today, Turkey’s 98 percent Muslim population means that few Turks know about Christian holidays like Easter. Orhan said he knew very little when he married Maria seven years ago. But he says living with Maria and travelling to the U.S. has opened his perspective on the two faiths.
“The way is same, where they want to go is same. And only some different rituals, something different, that’s all, mostly same. And I was really happy when I hear those kind of things,” said Orhan about his visit to a Kansas church.
Rather than scoffing at the silliness, the students found meaning in the egg-stravaganza.
“It’s a nice celebration. Painting and looking for eggs gets everyone involved, and brings the family closer,” said Gulsah.
For Maria, she hopes that her daughter will be as open minded as the visiting students.
“I also hope that she grows up with a belief in things that her father and I both find important.”
To do that, Maria and Orhan will keep on teaching their traditions every day, together.
(Special thanks to Orhan Iskenderoglu for translations.)