National Sovereignty & Children’s Day in Turkey

Last Updated on April 22, 2024

children's day in turkey

National Sovereignty and Children's Day (Ulusal Egemenlik ve Çocuk Bayramı) is a special holiday that can only be found in a number of countries in the world. It is a day celebrated to honor the independence of Turkey from invading forces and to remember the importance of children, not only in Turkey but all around the world.

This day holds an even more special place in the hearts of Turks since it is the first country to declare a Children's Day a public holiday.

How is National Sovereignty and Children's Day Celebrated?

National Sovereignty and Children's Day preparations start a week before April 23rd (the official day of the holiday). Children in the school start decorating their classes and schools with Turkish flags, balloons, and various ornaments. Children also start writing poems to celebrate the day and do multiple artworks to be exhibited in the school. 

As mentioned, Atatürk not only dedicated Children's Day to Turkish youth but also to children worldwide. So, Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) invites children worldwide to live with a Turkish family for a week and share stories until they participate in the shows on April 23rd. 

On the day of the festival, the Turkish president makes a speech on national television addressing the importance of national sovereignty and children, the earth's future. Many people visit Anıtkabir (the final resting place of Atatürk) and attend street celebrations. 

The day of the festival (April 23rd) is a public holiday, so schools are closed, and children attend these festivals as well. Many traditional dances, exhibitions, concerts, and sporting events are held during the celebrations. Also, numerous street parades are held in honor of National Sovereignty Day and Children's Day.

One special aspect of National Sovereignty and Children's Day, unique to a few countries, is that children replace all governing positions in the government. After, the children vote among themselves to pick one child as the president of Turkey for the day and the chosen president addresses the country on national television. 

History of National Sovereignty and Children's Day

The history of National Sovereignty and Children's Day can be traced back to the 1920s, when the Grand Assembly of Turkey was founded on April 23rd, 1920, to resist the invading forces and replace the Ottoman Empire, the country's ruling power.


After the Grand Assembly of Turkey was founded in 1920, in the following year (1921), Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the general leader of the Grand Assembly of Turkey, laid the foundations for a new and modern country governed as a republic and declared April 23rd the first public holiday of the newly formed Turkey to celebrate "National Sovereignty." However, it was not dedicated to children yet. 


During his rule, Atatürk transformed the country rapidly through a set of groundbreaking reforms and innovations and believed the youth of Turkey were the future and would carry the country to new heights. Because of this belief, In 1927, Atatürk dedicated April 23rd to the country's future: children. This marked the beginning of "National Sovereignty and Children's Day," and Turkey became the first country in the world to declare Children's Day as an official holiday. 

How is Public Life Affected?

While preparations for National Sovereignty and Children's Day (April 23rd) start a week prior, public life is not affected by any means. 


However, April 23rd is an official holiday in Turkey, meaning governmental offices will be closed. But you shouldn't have difficulty finding cafes, restaurants, or hotels.  


Also, many street festivals and parades are held to celebrate the day's importance. So, public transportation might be affected based on the day's agenda.

National Sovereignty and Children's Day Celebrations

Children hold a special place in Turkish culture, which also reflects on the beliefs and holidays of the country. April 23rd is a special holiday in Turkey that celebrates national sovereignty and children as an official holiday to remember the significance of children worldwide. 

Schools and streets are decorated with bright red Turkish flags and balloons, and many local and national parades and festivals are held to celebrate National Sovereignty and Children's Day. If you ever get the chance, join the celebrations to share the message further!

—by Can Turan

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