Every year on the sixth day of May, Hıdırellez, one of the rituals celebrating the arriving of spring. The word, Hidirellez, is formed by unification of the words Khidr (Hızır) and Elijah (İlyas). As it is celebrated among the peoples in the Turkish cultural geography, it is known and celebrated by other peoples, as well. In Orthodox Christian World, this holiday is known as Aya Yorgi, while among Catholic Christians it is known as St. George (Kalafat, 2011, s.21-23).


There are many folktales about Khidr (Hızır) and Elijah (İlyas). One of them is this: "Khidr and Elijah are the two soldiers of the army of Alexander the Great. He and his army search for water of immortality. On the journey, Khidr and Ilyas are separated from the other soldiers. They take a break near a headwater and get dried fish to eat. At this very moment, the sea water spatters fish, the fish gets to resuscitate and jumps to the water. Thus, Khidr and Elijah happened to find immortality water. In the meantime, an angel comes. The angel states that Khidr and Elijah will live forever, but Khidr will help those who need the help on the land, Elijah will help those who need it on the sea.” (Oğuz, 2008, s.159)


Hıdırellez, the revival of nature, is the herald of returning to the spring season, leaving the sleeping nature behind in the winter. It has been evident in history that spring season is celebrated with special ceremonies everywhere that people live.


The most important days of the year for Romani people are "Kakava." Celebrations in Thrace called Kakava are known as "Hıdırellez" in Anatolia. Hidirellez became a celebration day not limited to only among Romanies but shared by all the Anatolian peoples. According to various studies, Kakava is originated from Egypt and Front Asia. Kakava; an ancient folk culture, is that, according to the mythology and belief of the Romanies, the story of it is based on a tyranny against a people in the period of Pharaohs God-King era, refers to that people are Romanies living with the Copts, against the tyranny some series of “miracle” events turn into beliefs over time. Scholars, who delve into this subject have stated that the story dated back in history of 6 thousand years.



Hıdırellez and Kakava festivals in Edirne are celebrated within the scope of events organized by the Edirne Municipality. The events begin on 5th of May with traditional horse races. On that day, the Romanies, in Edirne, return the Çeribaşı. The Governor of the city, the Mayor and other protocol members, Çeribaşı and his team, city-dwellers and domestic and foreign tourists come together in Sarayiçi (Former Royal Palace Campus) within the schedule determined by the Municipality of Edirne. The venue welcomes the people with "Spring Festival" meeting by performing music and local folk dance groups on the stands organized by the municipality. Later, the prepared "Hıdırellez-Kakava Fire" is burnt. Once the fire has been set, it will topple over so that it can be leaped after a while, and those who come here will jump over this fire three times. It is believed that in Hıdırellez, jumping over the fire that saves from evil, and it will bring good luck and health. Afterward, the rice with meats is served by the Edirne Municipality to participants in the event. In recent years, these events have been held all over the city, not restricted only in Sarayiçi region. Due to Hıdrellez-Kakava Festivals, there are festivals venues in the Peace Park (Barış Parkı), also known as the Pond, in Zübeyde Hanım Park, and in Bostanpazarı. In all the sites, rice with meats is distributed to all people. Music events are continuing all night long in the Sarayiçi event area and Saraçlar Avenue (a touristic walkway of the city).


According to the belief, on the evening of May 5th, the people draw pictures of the things they admire leave the draws or pictures of their wishes for under the rose seedlings or leave their written wishes.


The people of Edirne, domestic and foreign tourists who come to the city will meet in the Sarayiçi area between 05.00-06.00 hours on the morning of May 6th. The participants enjoy tea and traditional Turkish bagel here, this will be with the municipality’s compliments. Before dawn, young unmarried girls from the area come to the shores of the Tunca River wearing their wedding dress to find a fortune to get married. Those who want to make a wish will mount their wish to the wish-fulfilling tree. Then the young Romani girls enter the water with abundance and health wishes with their wedding dresses. Some of them take water from the river and wash their hands and faces, and some of them bear some water to take away home, it was observed. Some Romanies and tourists also seem to have left their candles by praying for the papers on which the wishes of the Tunca River were written for 'health, purification, and fertility,' which is based on their beliefs. According to a belief, it is thought that Babafingo will come out from the Tunca River and help them in their hardship.

The people who get up early in the morning and go to the river-bank start to turn back with the first lights in the morning. When the people return from Saraiçi, they will pluck the willow tree branches. They will hang these willow branches on their own house’s doors and neighboring houses’ ones. These branches are believed to bring abundance and wealth to the houses. On May 6th, at Saraçlar Avenue, Municipality Brass and other musical groups perform. Also, “egg breaking” and “pulling intention” activities are done. Until late night, various cultural events are celebrated in the city regarding with "Hıdırellez and Kakava festivals."


UNESCO (United Nations Education, Science, and Cultural Organization) has prepared a file in cooperation with the General Directorate of Research and Education of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Municipality of Edirne and Nongovernmental organizations for the entrance of Hidirellez and Kakava festivals to the Tentative List of UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage. Prepare along with Macedonia and Turkey offered to UNESCO in 2016 "Spring Celebration: Hidirellez" of multinational common files, submit for consideration into South Korea's Jeju Island between 4 to 8 December 2017 Intangible Cultural Protection Heritage 12th Intergovernmental Committee Meeting. Prepared along with Macedonia and Turkey offered to UNESCO in 2016 "Spring Celebration: Hidirellez" of multinational common files and submitted for evaluation into Intangible Cultural Protection Heritage 12th Intergovernmental Committee Meeting which holds in South Korea's Jeju Island between 4 to 8 December 2017. As a result of the evaluation, it was stated that Hıdırellez was recorded in UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage Representation of Humanity and .in this case as to strengthen common cultural respect and understanding in the global arena has been pointed out that Turkey is a remarkable indicator of the activities carried out.



Kalafat, Yaşar. (2011). Türk Kültürlü Halklarda Hz. Hızır’dan Sultan Nevruz’a. [From Khidr, his holiness to Sultan Nevruz] İstanbul: Berikan.

Oğuz, M. Öcal (Ed.). (2008).Türkiye’nin Somut Olmayan Kültürel Mirası [Non-Intangible Cultural Heritage of Turkey]. Ankara: T.C. Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı.