Lale Sürmen Aran
Weekend in Turkey
Travelers ask me about when the weekend in Turkey is. As greater majority of population in Turkey are Muslims, they fairly assume that weekend is Friday, which can be considered Sabbath for Muslims in a “conventional understanding”.
I said in a “conventional understanding”, as in the Holy Quran, source of Islam, Muslims are encouraged to congregate for the noon prayer of Friday, but then they are commanded to disperse right away after it ends to go back to work. This tells us that Friday is not a day off from work, but a day you congregate for a specific prayer. As a matter of fact, Turkish word for Friday is “Cuma”, a word coming from Arabic (Jumu-ah) meaning gathering. So, it is the prayer that gives it’s name to the day, not visa versa.
In many countries where Islam is the main religion, it is common that Friday is a day off or a half-day off from work. Not in Turkey, in Turkey Friday is a working day.  Working week in Turkey is from Monday thru Friday.  Weekend days are Saturday and Sunday, like Europe and USA.
The civil ceremony ending the school week on Friday, after the last class of the week. Students are singing the National Anthem.
School system in Turkey is similar to that of in USA. We have both public and private schools in all levels of schooling. There are good and bad ones among both.
At the moment, there is a 4+4+4 system in Turkey; 4 years of primary, 4 years of secondary and 4 years of high school. Compulsory education is 12 years for all citizens since in 2012.
This has been the case since 1926. Prior to this year, Turks under the Ottomans and during the first three years of the Turkish Republic used a Julian (lunar) calendar. In early years of the Turkish Republic a series of reforms were adopted, they were aimed to make Turkey progress quicker. These are called Ataturk’s Reforms; they were in politics, civil, cultural, legal, social and economic policies that would aid in Turkey’s conversion to a secular and modern state.
Adoption of the Gregorian (solar) calendar; and Saturday and Sunday as the weekend were among these reforms.
All of these crossed my mind in lightning speed when I was walking next to a secondary school yesterday. The civil ceremony ending the school week was going on and I couldn’t help myself, I walked in to the garden of the school to participate, something I had done for 11 years before graduating the high school. Every Friday, in every school in Turkey, after the last class of the week all students gather in the garden of their school, the headmaster makes a short speech about the week ending and what expects students in the upcoming week. Than, all together we sing the National Anthem before going home to enjoy the weekend, Saturday and Sunday.
Happy Travels and a Good Weekend!