Melon Day takes place on the second Sunday in August. This year, it takes place on August 14. On this special day, we celebrate cantaloupes, galias, and all the other muskmelons, specifically those belonging to the people of Turkmenistan. If you’re like us, you may have confused watermelons for melons at least once in your life, however, these two fruits are very different even though they stem from the same family. Melons, particularly muskmelons, have an important agricultural heritage and are the pride of the people of Turkmenistan, a country located in Central Asia. Today, they honor not only their well-groomed muskmelons but a fine crossbreed, named after their first president, the Turkmenbashi melon.
History of Melon Day
They are hard, musky, and netted on the outside, but soft, succulent, and orange or white on the inside. Today, all the hype is about muskmelons, these juicy fruits that are not to be confused with any other kind of melon. We often find ourselves placing all melons in the same category, but this is an oversight on our part. Muskmelons are quite different from all other melons, and this can be attributed to their physical features and taste. They typically have smooth, ribbed, wrinkled, or netted exteriors with sweet flesh that is yellow or white. Some examples of muskmelons are cantaloupes, honeydews, and galias.
Although we are celebrating all kinds of muskmelons today, Melon Day originated in Turkmenistan and holds cultural significance for its people. For those who may not know, Turkmenistan is the least populated country found in Central Asia. They are known for their beautiful culture, heritage, and also their delicious melons. Turkmenistan is responsible for approximately 400 of the melon varieties we have today. They grow and cultivate muskmelons in great numbers, and this has been an integral part of their history and culture for decades.
Melons hold such importance that one of the crossbreed products is named after their first president, Saparmurat Niyazov, who is also the creator of this holiday. He preferred to be known as ‘Turkmenbashi,’ which means ‘leader of the people.’ The Turkmenbashi melon is revered for its aroma, taste, and hefty size.
Melon Day timeline
The first record of muskmelon is traced back to this time, on an Egyptian picture of funerary offerings.
Muskmelons are introduced to China and other Asian countries in the Middle Ages.
The first president of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, establishes Melon Day.
The president of Turkmenistan refers to the Turkmen melons as the source of their pride and as a fruit of paradise in his address to farmers.
Melon Day FAQs
Is Melon Day a public holiday?
Melon Day is a national, public holiday in Turkmenistan. Although this holiday is now acknowledged in a few other countries, it only remains a public holiday in its founding federation. Citizens are not required to go to work or school on this day and are encouraged to join in the holiday’s festivities.
Why are they called muskmelons?
Muskmelons were given their name based on their aroma. These fruits have a particularly flavorful smell when ripe. ‘Musk’ is the Persian word for ‘perfume’ and is the perfect description for the sweet aroma of ripe muskmelons.
Are all muskmelons sweet?
Muskmelons have hard, smooth, ribbed, or netted skin with a flavorful musk-like taste and aroma. Their flesh is sweet-tasting and often orange in color with high water content and nutritional value.
Melon Day Activities
Eat a muskmelon
How else can you celebrate Melon Day, other than by eating some delicious melons? Casaba, canaries, and honeydews are a few of the sweet possibilities you can enjoy on this holiday, and remember to share them with your family and friends.
Make something with a muskmelon
Muskmelon can be eaten in several ways. One way is by including it in desserts. You can make melon boats, fruit salads, and a traditional Chinese dish called Glutinous Rice Fresh Melon and Coconut Roll. Go online and see what tasty dessert you could make today with one, two, or even three varieties of muskmelon.
Attend the festival
If you find yourself in Turkmenistan on Melon Day, join in for the festivities! The people organize several festivals, events, and even competitions to commemorate their cultural holiday. You can also take some time out, explore, and see what the city has to offer.
5 Fun Facts About Cantaloupes
It’s named after a city
The name ‘cantaloupe’ was derived from Cantalupo, Italy, which was the first place where the seeds arrived from Armenia in the 16th century.
Low in calories, high in vitamins
An average-sized cantaloupe will have just approximately 100 calories and contain a bounty of vitamins.
They win the popularity contest
Cantaloupes are the most popular melons in America.
They have flowers
Cantaloupe plants produce small yellow flowers while developing.
Ripe ones are easy to detect
When a cantaloupe is ripe, its vines simply detach from the fruit and its rind and the netting turns beige or cream underneath.
Why We Love Melon Day
It’s a delicious holiday
Who doesn’t love a holiday where we can indulge in sweet-tasting melons eaten on their own or as part of a dish or dessert — the flavorful options are endless!
It encourages us to eat fruits
Many of us don’t eat as much fruit as we should, but a holiday like this allows us to have our fill. This day encourages us to eat more fruits, and not just any fruit, but one of the sweetest you could come across — muskmelons.
It’s part of Turkmenistan’s cultural heritage
This holiday is not only important to the history, culture, and people of Turkmenistan, it was also established by them. Melon Day allows us to appreciate the wonderful fruit, gives us a sneak-peek into Turkmenistan culture, and allows us to learn more about the people.
Melon Day dates