People from all over Turkey and major cities of the world celebrate National Sovereignty and Children’s Day on 23 April. 

Turkey’s National Sovereignty and Children’s Day connects two important pieces of history; it’s when the Grand National Assembly of Turkey convened for the first time in 1920; and when the Turkish Republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, dedicated the fledgling Republic to the children who would inherit it. 

Many people in Turkey commemorate this first gathering of the Grand National Assembly (the Turkish Parliament) by attending local ceremonies or laying wreaths at monuments of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.  The biggest ceremony takes place at the Ataturk Mausoleum in Ankara.

Ataturk reportedly dedicated the Turkish Republic to the children declaring that “children are the new beginning of tomorrow”.  On this day children take seats in the Turkish Parliament and symbolically govern the country for one day and, one lucky child gets elected president before addressing the country on national television. 

Children’s festivals take place throughout the country and the state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) brings children, aged between eight and fourteen from different countries around the world to Turkey.  These children stay with Turkish families for a week and participate in children’s festivals, which culminate in a gala-performance on April 23.

National Sovereignty and Children’s Day is an official holiday in Turkey. Government offices, schools and most businesses are closed on this day.  Public transport routes may vary in the event of street performances and it is important to remember that the roads will be busy, so be prepared for heavy traffic.

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