Guide to public holidays of Turkey: 9 major national holidays

A visit to any country can become much more interesting if the traveler is lucky enough to attend one of the national celebrations. Holidays in Turkey are unique and peculiar and are dedicated to both historical and religious events. If you are traveling to a country and would like to get acquainted with its culture, be sure to go to one of the events, a detailed description of which is presented below.

Holidays in Turkey

New Year

It is celebrated on the night of December 31 to January 1.

Turkish holidays are significantly different from the usual celebrations for the European man in the street. This also applies to the New Year, to celebrate which in Turkey began only in 1935. Many Turks are still skeptical of this event, confusing it with Christmas, thereby convincing themselves that the New Year is a purely Christian holiday. But the advanced part of the population has not been looking for a religious background for a long time and is happy to celebrate the coming of the new year.

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Festive dinner

December 31 is a working day in Turkey, which at some enterprises is reduced by 1-2 hours. January 1 is considered an official day off, and from January 2, everyone again goes to work. On New Year’s Eve, it is customary to gather with family or friends over a festive dinner consisting of various snacks and a main meat dish. There are no special traditions in New Year’s recipes here: everyone prepares dishes at his discretion. Alcohol, as a rule, is absent at such events.

New Year gifts

Most of the residents of Turkey do not decorate the Christmas tree for the New Year, however, the decorated coniferous tree can often be found in shops, restaurants and shopping centers. The tradition of giving gifts is also purely individual: in some families they observe it, in others they don’t think about it at all. The only established custom for the New Year in Turkey is the purchase of a lottery ticket that promises fabulous winnings.

Custom buy a lottery ticket for the New Year

Although the New Year can hardly be called a national Turkish holiday, some residents still celebrate it on a grand scale. Many restaurants offer New Year programs with food and drink, live music and belly dancing. In honor of the holiday, most hotels develop a special concept and organize gala evenings with an unlimited number of alcoholic drinks, an entertaining show and a subsequent party. Typically, prices in hotels for the New Year in Turkey increase at least 2 times.

Holiday of National Sovereignty and Children

These are two national Turkish holidays on April 23rd.

Holiday of National Sovereignty and Children in Turkey

Often in Turkey you can meet such a phenomenon as the unification of holidays in one solemn event. Such a phenomenon is observed on April 23, when the celebrations in the country are dedicated both to the sovereignty of the state and to children. The origin of the holiday is associated with the performance of Ataturk in Ankara in 1920, during which he announced that he intends to build a secular independent state, cleared of the rudimentary foundations of the Ottoman Empire. The president also announced that he would devote April 23 to children who are the future of humanity.

Children's Independence Day in Turkey

The celebration of this national event is large-scale and vibrant. In the morning, schoolchildren gather in city stadiums and squares, various kinds of sports competitions are held between individual educational institutions. Dressed in elegant costumes, children march with adults to the sounds of the national anthem. Also on April 23, small residents of Turkey replace statesmen in their offices, hold meetings and sign pre-written decrees. Children even come to the office of the President of Turkey and try to play the role of commander in chief of the country. Often, students from other countries are invited to such events.

Labor and Solidarity Day

The holiday is celebrated on May 1.

If you are interested in what holidays are held in Turkey, then we hasten to inform you that it is customary to celebrate Labor Day in the country, as in many countries of the world. The event dates back to 1856 in Melbourne (Australia), where for the first time there was a strike of workers who demanded an 8-hour shift. After similar meetings were held in the USA and France, and at the beginning of the 20th century in some cities of Turkey. May 1 acquired the official status of the Turkish national holiday in 1923, but the demonstration organized by the workers turned into several detentions, after which they decided to mark the event.

Labor and Solidarity Day

So, throughout the entire 20th century, Labor Day in Turkey was either abolished or established again. The date of May 1, 1977, when more than half a million peaceful demonstrators went to Taksim Square in Istanbul, became notorious. Due to the provocative actions of several protesters, the police opened fire on people, as a result of which more than 30 people died and about 200 people were injured. Today this event is taking place in the country quite calmly: unions organize peaceful marches in squares and chant their demands on the government.

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Ataturk holiday, Youth and Sports Day

This national holiday in Turkey falls on May 19th.

Exactly 100 years ago, on May 19, Atatürk, arriving in the city of Samsun, addressed the young generation with a speech in which he announced the start of the struggle for Turkish independence. Initially, the Turkish national holiday, which became official in 1935, was dedicated to this performance. Then, in honor of the event at the Istanbul stadium, numerous sports were held, after which it was decided to devote a date to youth and sports. In 1980, the holiday takes on a modern name and combines two goals at once – to honor the memory of Ataturk and pay tribute to the young generation and sport.

Youth and Sports Day

Today, May 19, various sports competitions are held in all cities of Turkey. Turkish flags flutter throughout the streets, and Ataturk’s portrait posters adorn the walls of the buildings. The holiday in Samsun is especially magnificent: the huge Turkish flag is brought to the seashores in order to mark the coming of the reformer. And in the mausoleum of Ataturk in Ankara, solemn laying of wreaths is arranged.

Laying wreaths in the mausoleum of Ataturk

Eid Al Fitr

This is one of the main religious holidays in Turkey, each year falls on different dates.

Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the Muslim fasting of Ramadan, during which during the month it is forbidden to eat food, tobacco and any drinks from dawn to dusk. It is worth noting that not all residents of Turkey observe the fast, although most of them still try to stick to it. The date of the holiday is calculated according to the Islamic calendar and is modified annually. As a rule, at the end of the post, the government allocates 3-4 days off to celebrate.

Dinner at Eid Al Fitr

On these holidays, it is customary to have rich dinner parties for family members and friends. An obligatory component of any table is a dessert in the form of baklava, cadaif and other national sweets. In addition, according to a long-established tradition, in the first days after Ramadan, shops make tremendous discounts. So the holiday is also a time of intense shopping. Many Turkish families prefer to spend weekends in hotels in the resorts of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas.

A must in any table is dessert.

Day of Democracy and National Unity

Refers to Turkish national holidays, falls on July 15th.

This is a new holiday in Turkey related to the events of July 15, 2016, when the military attempted to carry out a coup in the country. On that night, upon learning of the conspiracy from the media, hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens took to the streets of Istanbul, trying to stop the conspirators with their bare hands. The incident showed the unshakable unity of the Turkish people: even his opponents and ardent opponents came out to defend the president’s regime. As a result of the military attack, 248 people died, more than 2,000 were injured.

Speech by the head of state

President R.T. Erdogan and his supporters decided to devote July 15 to the victims of the failed coup. On this day, the head of state makes a special speech to his people, reminding him of past events and commemorating the dead. There are no special traditions to celebrate this holiday, so most of the residents of Turkey, it is regarded as an ordinary extraordinary day off.

Kurban Bayram

This Turkish holiday is celebrated every year on different days.

Prayer at the mosque

Kurban Bayram is one of the main religious events in Turkey, associated with the name of the prophet Ibrahim. According to the legend, Allah ordered the saint to kill his son in order to prove his faithfulness. And when Ibrahim was ready to fulfill the order, God stopped the prophet. After this, the saint sacrificed a ram.

Like Eid al-Fitr, the holiday of Kurban Bayram is celebrated at different times in accordance with the Islamic calendar. These dates are declared official holidays. On the first day of Kurban Bayram, Muslims of Turkey go to the mosque for morning prayer, and then carry out a ritual of sacrifice. Most often, a sheep acts as a victim, but some families buy bulls. Slaughter of an animal can be carried out both by the head of the family, and in special butcher shops.

Ram for sacrifice

After cutting the carcass, part of the meat is left to itself, part is given to relatives and the poor. On Kurban Bayram, it is customary to cook dishes of fresh mutton and invite close relatives to the table. It is worth noting that many Turks do not observe the tradition of sacrifice and make only monetary donations to the poor.

Victory Day

This is one of the main national holidays of Turkey, falling on August 30.

Victory Day in Turkey

The event is connected with the victory of the Turks over the Greek invaders in the battle of Dumlupinar in 1922. This battle was the culmination of the war between Greece and Turkey 1919-1922. and brought the country ultimate independence. Every year on August 30, military parades are held in most cities, Turkish hymns are played and concerts are organized. Locals hang state flags on balconies. In major cities, aviation performances are held, during which white and red colors (flag colors) appear in the sky.

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Republic Day

What other holidays are celebrated in Turkey? Of course, one of the main national events is the Republic Day, celebrated on October 29th.

Turkey celebrates Republic Day

On October 29, 1923, Ataturk declared Turkey a republic, in honor of which this holiday was established. It is noteworthy that the celebrations begin to be held on October 28 from the middle of the day. In all cities, processions and parades take place, and the streets are decorated with state flags. In Ankara, residents bring flowers to the Ataturk mausoleum, the military organize army shows. On the evening of October 29, numerous concerts are held in the cities, ending in volleys of fireworks.

Volleys of fireworks

Here, perhaps, are all the main holidays in Turkey. Most of them are quite bright and large-scale, but some do not cause much interest. In any case, when visiting a country, it will be useful for any traveler to know about its culture and history. And all comers can even be imbued with a national spirit and a solemn atmosphere, having visited one of the holidays.

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