Non-Muslims in Turkey do not fast during Ramadan, Islam's holy month that includes daytime fasting for a month. But many experience the tradition with their Muslim neighbours.
Roberta Olson Ozgunduz has lived in Istanbul since the 1980s. As an American married to a Turk, she learned holy month customs and advises those not fasting to refrain from eating, drinking or smoking in public places during daylight hours.
"Ramadan, to me, is a time of celebration like American Thanksgiving, for 30 days in a row. It is always a nice feeling because when breaking the fast with Muslim friends even when I don't fast is still very special, and it makes everybody feel a part of the same family. So, it is one of my favourite times in Turkey."
After sunset, the city regains its bubbly atmosphere, with illuminated mosques and crowded restaurants offering special Ramadan menus. Non-Muslims find such customs colourful, with delicious dishes specific to Ramadan.
Some indulge in expensive dinners, although the spirit of Ramadan invites a lifestyle of modesty.
Ceki Baruh, a Jewish resident of Istanbul, thinks that Ramadan is an opportunity to show camaraderie with Muslim neighbours.
"Ramadan is for us to socialise, blend with other religions of the society, and to understand them," she said. "One of my favourite activities is to share Iftar with my Muslim friends and live that enthusiasm. And if I can, I try not to eat during those days in order to bring a value to my activity. We should also emphasise that during Ramadan, the representatives of different religions in Istanbul organise joint dinners to celebrate the holy spirit of that month."
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