Yesterday was the 23rd of April; an important holiday in the Turkish calendar as it marks the anniversary of the inauguration of Turkey’s National Assembly on 23rd April 1920. Founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, later added Children’s Day to this already significant anniversary, declaring children as the future of Turkey.
This national holiday, known as Ulusal Egemenlik ve Çocuk Bayramı (National Sovereignty and Children’s Day) is celebrated all over Turkey with performances, folk dances and parades by children, not just from Turkey but from all over the world. This year, families in Fethiye are playing host to children from a school on the Isle of Wight in the UK as well as to children from numerous other countries. What a wonderful opportunity for those children!
Last year, we walked into town to watch Children’s Day celebrations in Fethiye and were lucky enough to watch folk dancers from Greece and Turkey performing at the culture centre. This year, we weren’t so lucky. As we walked along Fethiye harbour, we knew we’d missed all the parades as we passed children in costumes walking along with their parents. Many were juggling drums, flags, ice-creams, snacks. We went to the culture centre to see what the timetable for the day was. A boxing ring was being erected. So, rather than seeing a folk dance performance, anyone who was in Fethiye in the evening will have seen members of Fethiye’s boxing cub displaying their skills instead.
Of course, as this national holiday also celebrates the Turkish Republic, it’s also very much a vast display of Turkish flags. So, while we missed the children’s parades, we certainly couldn’t miss the flags. Government and public buildings were displaying huge Turkish flags (and still are today) while private homes had flags hanging from window frames, balconies and washing lines. Even if you’re not familiar with the dates of national holidays in Turkey, if you’re in the country when there is one, you’ll soon catch on to the fact – the flags will always let you know.