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Celebrating Children’s Day in Turkey

One of most amazing cultural days to experience in Turkey is Children’s Day.

April 23rd was Children’s Day here in Turkey.  The entire country, but especially the schools, are decorated in Turkish flags as well as photos of Ataturk.  Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was the first president of Turkey after he helped gain independence from Greece. 

All dressed up to celebrate Children's Day.
All dressed up to celebrate Children’s Day.

Ataturk set up the First Grand National Assembly on this day in Ankara, which he made the new capital of the country.  That was in 1920, but in 1927 he dedicated this day to children to emphasize their role in Turkey’s future.

Kids all over the country prepare sports and cultural events to show the community on this day.  Many of the programs revolve around traditional dances and customs to celebrate their “Turkishness.” 

A girl holds a pinwheel of Turkish flags.
A girl holds a pinwheel of Turkish flags.

There area also plenty of activities like plays, art exhibits, parades, and lots of other activities for children last the entire week. We went down to Tunali, which is one of the busiest streets in all of Ankara. 

We usually try to avoid it at all costs. If you are visiting, though, there are plenty of bars, restaurants, and cafes.  Normally, it takes you at least 10 minutes to drive through the intersection, but on this day, the road was completely blocked off for the parade. 

A simit vendor selling to locals.
A simit vendor selling to locals.

In Kuglu (Swan) park, there were characters in costumes, a stage with dances and bands, and of course some snack vendors.  The park was decorated in a rainbow of netting, and children were getting their faces painted.  The parade itself was very short with the entire crowd following it.

It was an interesting little celebration, but I would recommend seeking one out if you happen to be in the country during the week of April 23rd.

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.