National Sovereignty and Children’s Day is a public holiday in Turkey, celebrated each year on April 23rd. Government offices, banks, and many businesses are closed, and the kids from local schools put on special performances in halls and town squares across the country to mark the occasion.
Celebrating 100 years since the first gathering of the Grand National Assembly.
April 23rd is an important day in Turkey because Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, held the first gathering of the Grand National Assembly on the same day in 1920. He later went on to dedicate the day to the children of the world as he believed that they were our future.
2020 is particularly significant as it’s 100 years since the event. Big celebrations were planned, but unfortunately, the current coronavirus pandemic has meant schools have had to organise activities for children to do from home, rather than gather and celebrate together.
Traditionally, big commemoratory celebrations are held in Ankara, Turkey’s capital. Here, wreaths are placed at the Atatürk Mausoleum, and children symbolically take seats in parliament for the day to “run” the country. Students and children from over 30 nations are normally invited to attend schools, perform in shows and stay with local families for the week.
The history of Children’s Day in Turkey
The setting up of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in 1920 paved the way for the formation of the Republic of Turkey.
The countries liberation struggle started on May 19th 1919, when almost every part of the Ottoman Empire was under allied occupation. Yet, it was only after the setting up of the Grand National Assembly in 1920, that the fight for freedom gained momentum and movements sprang up all over Anatolia seeking independence.
It was the Turkish National War of Liberation led by Mustafa Kemal (later given the name Atatürk), that finally led to Anatolias freedom from occupation. This resulted in the modern borders of Turkey becoming internationally recognised by the Treaty of Lausanne, and the formation of The Republic of Turkey on October 29th, 1923.
Children’s Day in Fethiye
Fethiye is a lively and patriotic town that loves to party. Under normal circumstances, local children would have started practising their Children’s Day dances and speeches many weeks ago. The biggest celebration in Fethiye is usually held at Beskaza Square, in front of the Atatürk statue. Here, wreaths would be placed, and there would be a parade followed by music, speeches and dance. Traditionally, children would fill the streets with a chorus of drums, laughter and music.
Local schools also organise their own celebrations with kids of all ages involved, all dressed-up in smart outfits or special costumes. This year, due to the pandemic, teachers have requested kids make video speeches, decorate their balconies with Turkish flags, and sing the national anthem in unison at home, to comply with lockdown regulations and the need to socially distance. This may be a little strange for some, but the children of Turkey and Fethiye will no-doubt make up for lost time and laughter once the current risks have passed.
Will Children’s Day in Turkey affect your holiday?
Under normal circumstances, the only way Children’s Day in Turkey would impact on your holiday is if you intended to visit the bank, exchange on a property purchase, or visit a government building. Sovereignty Day is a public holiday, so some businesses do close, although, in the majority of tourist resorts, restaurants and bars tend to stay open. April 23rd is simply a lovely day and one filled with happiness, where the children dress-up and laugh and bring a little life and colour to the streets. If you are lucky enough to be in Turkey during the celebration, do join in on the action!
If you would like more information on Turkish life and culture, please see the Angel Homes blog, and to view our current Turkey property portfolio, please see our website.
(Images taken from the Daily Sabah)