Turkish National Sovereignty & Children’s Day

April 23rd is National Sovereignty and Children’s Day in Turkey – two separate holidays which became one.  Let’s take a peek into this unique holiday, as we in the West may be unfamiliar with it. 

Who Created this Holiday and Why?

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish Republic made a proposal to the fledgling Turkish Grand National Assembly to create this public Turkish holiday on April 23, 1929.  

If you’re not familiar with who he was, Ataturk (‘Father of Turks’, the name he was given by his countrymen) was similar to George Washington in the United States.

The day also coincides with the inauguration of the Turkish Grand National Assembly (similar to the US House of Representatives and Senate) only 9 years earlier on April 23, 1920.  

By dedicating this day also to children, as they are the future of any country, as far as I know Turkey was the first country in the world to celebrate an official Children’s Day.  Children from across the globe are invited to Turkey on this day, it’s not restricted for celebrate Turkish Children only.

What Happens on This Day in Turkey?

What may be the most unique feature is children replace state officials such as the President, the cabinet ministers, provincial governors, mayors, and the parliamentarians in the Grand National Assembly and hold a ceremonial special session to discuss matters concerning children’s issues.  Since 1978, the state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation would sponsor children from different countries around the world, bringing them to stay with Turkish families for a week and participate in the events which include ceremonies with songs, folk dances, parades, plays, and other celebratory events.  Pre-COVID, these ceremonies occurred outdoors in large stadiums, for the past two years as of this writing the events have been scaled back and celebrated online.

To Recap

Turkey’s National Sovereignty and Children’s Day is held each year on April 23rd.  It’s a national holiday dedicated to children, the future of any nation, and is celebrated by events across Turkey.  Children even take the place of elected officials for the day, and discuss children’s issues.

Did this topic surprise you, give you food-for-thought, or give you insights into a topic you didn’t know about? Check back next month for our next blog update, and don’t forget to comment below with your thoughts – we appreciate constructive feedback!