Kısır and mücver, the two dishes that we’ll prepare in the Turkish Taalkeuken, are very popular in Turkish cuisine – especially during traditional women’s gatherings called Altın Günü (Gold Day). Read more about this tradition, the story behind it and what it is like in this blog!
What is Altın Günü?
Altın Günü is a traditional gathering of women in Turkey, where the women come together in rotation at each one’s place and eat, drink, talk and dance. It is typically held in the afternoon and lasts for several hours. And why do we call it Gold Day? Because the guests are expected to bring a golden coin for the hostess – more on that later.
What happens during an Altın Günü?
Nothing really special in terms of so-called Turkish hospitality (except for the coins). The hostess prepares and pampers her guests with a wide selection of dishes, tea and coffee. They praise dishes, exchange recipes, update each other about what’s going on with their life, family, and work. There is a lot of laughing, the atmosphere is usually filled with warmth and positivity and screaming kids :’). Though it’s not uncommon to see tears being shed, it’s ok because the event normally ends in göbek atmak (dancing, but literally: ‘throwing bellies’).
So what about the coins?
One of the reasons to participate in an Altın Günü is saving money. Or maybe you are in urgent need for cash, for example because you want to buy a car, renew your house, cover your kid’s school expenses, or clear your or your husband’s debts. Maybe you are a housewife with no regular income and your family is going through some financial hardship. You cannot take a loan from a bank or you are not comfortable enough to borrow money from someone else.
Or you simply want to socialize keeping the tradition alive and support your sisters who’re in financial need, strengthening your bonds and showing solidarity.
How is it organized?
Once there are enough women (reliability is a must!) willing to participate, they draw lots to decide who’s going to be the host each month. If you’re in an urgent need for cash, you can nicely ask for being the first! If you are a group of 12 women, there will be 12 occasions and each hostess will get 11 coins when it’s their turn.
The event is ideally held once a month at each participant’s place. The hostess prepares and serves a wide selection of dishes for the guests. They meet in rotation at regular intervals as they agreed on and when it’s the last hostess’ turn, they are even. In essence, depending on the stability of the economy, no one loses a single penny but at least for a month they get a big sum. Although the gift is traditionally a golden coin, it could also be in the form of Turkish lira or foreign currency.
What do they eat?
Typically, pastries, mezes, salads, cookies, cakes are served. Given the casual nature of the event, there isn’t a single traditional menu but it won’t be far-fetched to say kısır and mücver are essential, which we are also going to make on April 1. This time gold is not required, but don’t forget to bring your apron!
There is an Amsterdam-based Turkish psychedelic music band called Altın Gün. Are these two related?
I found no evidence to support this but the name Altın Gün (Golden Day) might indeed have been inspired by this very Turkish tradition. Another possibility is that the name is a reference to the golden days of Turkish music. All the same, let’s give a shout-out for this clever invention to the first gün teyzeleri (Gold Day aunties) who kept the pot boiling just by boiling the pot and by keeping social bonds and solidarity alive, with this videoclip by Altın Gün:
This blog was written by Turkish teacher Filiz.