Headscarf ceremonies for Muslim girls in Istanbul, as ‘Christian birthdays’ are not celebrated

The new trend in Istanbul is throwing headscarf donning parties for young girls, as we have learned from a reader’s letter to a conservative daily. Is this some kind of a Turkish touch to the traditions that otherwise represent very little fun and offer very little to the modern woman?

It is like the Muslim version of the Jewish coming of age ritual for girls, the Bat Mitzvah. I would not have known about it if columnist Fatma Barbarasoğlu had not written about it. I am quoting from her column dated Oct. 24, 2014, from daily Yeni Şafak. This is very new information for all of us, as I and my colleagues in the office had never heard of it before. Even the writer had not heard of it before.

The news comes from a letter from a reader, who is a career woman. She wrote that headscarf-donning ceremonies were being held in large wedding halls for young girls in rich, conservative neighborhoods of Istanbul.

She wrote: “I live in a conservative, religious district of Istanbul”…

The reader said, “Because it was the first time I heard such a thing, I was surprised at first, then told her I was very happy. I wished for Allah’s blessings, but I asked her why she needed a ceremony for this…”

The neighbor was so excited; she did not listen to the ironic comments of the reader that thought it was an unnecessary expenditure. The neighbor said, “You know, we do not celebrate birthdays, because birthdays are Christian traditions. At least we should do such ceremonies for our children.” The inviting mother stressed that everybody was doing it; “Why should I not do it for my child?”…

Birthdays are Christian? How odd. I had no idea.