Marmaris expats enjoy Christmas in their style .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} MARMARİS - They might be far away from their motherlands, but expatriates in Marmaris still try to celebrate Christmas in their own way. With plenty of events scheduled for that day, expatriates are sometimes joined by their Turkish friends

The expatriate community in Marmaris is greeting Christmas with mixed feelings. Some of them have already left the city to celebrate the holy period in their own countries, but most are staying in this warm and pretty city, which is considerably quiet during winter months.

The Marmaris Christian Fellowship, which opened 3 years ago, is the leading organization for Christmas celebrations in the city. The non-denominational, Protestant church is open to anyone for the Christmas, as in other times.

Four weeks before Christmas, every Wednesday the parents set aside for making Christmas crafts to produce decorations and gifts. On Saturday, a kid's day for crafts was arranged and it has been a very fun day for children in past years.

Muslim Turks are invited as well
Denny and Barbara Malone, the leaders of the church, held another Christmas meeting yesterday for caroling and Christmas readings with refreshments following.

Denny says that even some Turkish people have joined them to see the atmosphere in the church and enjoyed the Christmas songs in previous years. For further information visit the Web site at Marmaris Christian Fellowship. The Netsel Marina is another place where Christmas celebrations can be seen in Marmaris.

The Yalı Lions Club at the marina is hosting a traditional "Christmas charity bazaar" and aims to support students in need with the income from the sales. Also, on Wednesday, marina management will organize a big barbeque party for their customers.

Russians admit to forgetting Christmas
However, the Russian population in Marmaris feels different than other expatriates. Mostly women married to Turkish men, Russians feel that they have almost forgotten how to celebrate Christmas.

The Russian Orthodox generally makes special celebrations between Dec. 30 and Jan. 2. The foods, the gifts, open air celebrations at nights are all done during these dates.

But after marrying Turkish men they start to celebrate only the New Year’s Eve, and forget their traditions. While they are telling the memories, you can see how much they miss those days far from their home.

Svetlana Önder is a painter living in Marmaris. Married to Tolga Önder 10 years ago, she is a mother of two girls now. Svetlana loves living in Marmaris, but when it is Christmas time, she’s got the blues.

"People dance in the streets with champagne in Russia," she sighs. "Ded Moroz (Santa Claus) and his daughter Sneguroçka come to our homes with gifts, singing Christmas songs for the kids."

Svetlana admits that everything is different now that she is living in Turkey. "Life and tradition are completely different here," she says. "The only celebration is on New Year’s Eve, around a table with the family members. When you compare with our celebrations, this is very homely."

However, she has full respect for Turkey and the way the New Year is celebrated in the country.

"For sure we respect that Turkey is a Muslim country and this is the way to meet the New Year," explains the Russian. "But what has been the most disappointing thing for me is to see how the Russian expats here do not come together and celebrate Christmas. I think after getting married, we are no more the same with our traditions."