National Sovereignty and Children’s Day (“Ulusal Egemenlik ve Çocuk Bayramı”) is on April 23, a public holiday in Turkey with a difference. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the first president of Turkey, dedicated April 23 to all the world’s children — keepers and creators of the future. The day also commemorates the dawn of a new Turkish republic in 1923 after the fall of the Ottoman empire. To our knowledge, Turkey is the only country where children are the official symbols of national pride and progress. We think more countries should take a leaf out of their book.
History of National Sovereignty and Children's Day
The origins go back to April 23, 1920, during the War of Independence in Turkey. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Grand National Assembly met in Ankara to chart the future of a new Turkish republic. The day was proclaimed a national holiday in 1921 — marking the first National holiday of the new Turkey.
So how, did a public holiday become associated with Children’s Day? The world owes it to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of the Turkish Republic. In 1927, he dedicated April 23 to Turkey’s children to recognize that they are the future.
Ever since, the country has welcomed and hosted thousands of children from different countries on this day. It’s a wholly unique holiday, as public holidays are a day that combines solemn official ceremonies with engaging children’s festivals. What’s more, Turkish schoolchildren take over the Parliament and govern the country for a day. Every year, the symbolic act acknowledges the power of the youth to shape a better tomorrow. Children elect a President from among themselves who addresses the country on national T.V.
Celebrations are made extra special by the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation. The state-owned entity invites children from different countries to visit Turkey. Children ages eight to 14 years come and stay with Turkish families for a week of exchanging stories and cultural traditions. That’s seven days of festivals, food, and music. Everyone then meets for a grand performance on April 23 to mark the end of the week-long festivities.
On National Sovereignty and Children’s Day, the world celebrates with Turkey. Today not only honors the incredible journey of the Turkish republic but looks to an exciting future for the world’s children.
National Sovereignty and Children's Day timeline
The Ottoman Empire begins to crumble as revolutions restore the Constitution and the Ottoman parliament.
The Armistice of Mudros effectively ends the Ottoman participation and ambitions in World War I.
Turkey becomes the first country to declare Children’s Day a National Holiday.
Turkey officially renames April 23 as National Sovereignty and Children’s Day.
National Sovereignty and Children's Day FAQs
On June 1, who celebrates Children's Day?
In Geneva, during the World Conference on Child Welfare in 1925, the first International Children’s Day was declared. It has been observed on June 1 in most Communist and post-Communist nations since 1950.
Who came up with Children's Day?
The world’s first Children’s Day was established on November 20, 1954. The day promotes child welfare and the togetherness of children around the world.
When did Turkey start celebrating Children's Day?
Turkey officially marked Grand National Assembly Day on April 23, 1924. The country also organized a children’s week at the same time.
How to Observe National Sovereignty and Children's Day
Show some love
Celebrate in spirit, even if you can’t be in Turkey. Spend quality time with the children in your life today. Go all out and make the day special.
Talk about it
Everyone should know about this wonderful public holiday. Share information on social media or email to get the word out as much as possible.
Support a children’s charity
Honor the late Turkish President’s memory by helping children in need. Buy them gifts, sponsor a child’s education, or sign up as a mentor.
5 Facts About Cappadocia That Will Blow Your Mind
A whole new world underground
Although famous for aerial views, Cappadocia has over 50 underground cities.
An ancient land
The name “Cappadocia” goes back to the sixth century B.C. when Persian emperor Darius I first mentioned it.
The fantastic rock formations are called ‘Cappadocia fairies’ and are the results of volcanic eruption and gradual erosion.
The best open-air museum
Cappadocia’s Göreme Open-Air Museum has some of the best frescoes and rock-hewn structures.
Occupied since the third century
Human settlers have occupied the area since the Palaeolithic period.
Why National Sovereignty and Children's Day is Important
It’s in honor of Turkey
Rich history, amazing people, monuments, landscapes, and legions of cats on the streets! This country truly has it all.
It’s a public holiday unlike others
We love how the day directly links national pride with children. It's one of the most meaningful national observances.
Celebrations beyond borders
Children from different countries visit Turkey to celebrate. One of the few national holidays that are truly universal in scope.
National Sovereignty and Children's Day dates