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Indecent Santa, or why I love Turkish Christmas

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Sometimes you only have to read the headline of an article to know it’s going to be amazing. Such is the case with Hurriyet Daily News’ recent religion story, “Santa would come through door if he were decent, mufti says.”

I highly recommend you stop over at HDN and read that article. I’ll wait. I think this is my favorite part of the article:
“Santa Claus enters homes through chimneys and windows, but he would have entered homes through the door if he was a decent person,” Yeniçeri said. “We enter homes through doors. The Quran tells us to enter homes through doors. Why would he enter through the chimney?”

Turkey’s newspapers have a wonderful tradition of odd Santa stories. Last year, it was a group of nationalist students who held a press conference and smeared boot polish on an inflatable Santa before stabbing him with a pocketknife. Key quote: “Muslims must resist this corrupting and seducing Western cultural imperialism that tries to distance Muslims from their true values and estrange us from ourselves.” Even better quote: “New Year’s celebrations are the West’s attempt to establish cultural imperialism over Muslims.”

The year before, I remember having to spike a story scheduled to run December 31 that explained in detail all about the Western, Christian tradition of Christmas, which occurs on January 1. That writer had clearly done his research…

This year has been good for Santa articles in Turkey. In addition to the aforementioned Keşan mufti and his views on the decency or lack thereof in Santa, Istanbul police used Santa as part of their efforts to curb the sadly rampant New Years Eve “sexual harassment” (they mean groping) in and around Taksim Square. How embarrassing to be arrested by Santa. I mean, he’s not even decent!

Of course, one should keep in mind that the original Santa, Saint Nicholas himself, hailed from Turkey back in the day. He was from the Demre area. Ama burası Türkiye, ya?


2 responses »

  1. Sunday’s Taraf ran an interesting column by Ayşe Hür on the history of Santa Claus in Turkey, including a section on “Geyikli Baba,” a sort of pure-Turkish alternative to Santa. He rode a deer around Uludağ and delivered wine and rakı to Orhan Gazi during the seige of Bursa. No joke.


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