National Holidays in Turkey

National Holidays in Turkey

Overview of public holidays in Turkey, including national and religious holidays, learn what and when are the main holidays in Turkey in 2020.

Like every country, Turkey celebrates its important days that comes from its history, culture and religion. During these days, the holidays give a chance for everyone to spend time with their loved ones. Public transport usually runs on a Saturday schedule during the holidays, but many shops and restaurants are open for business. Here are the official holidays in Turkey.

New Year's Day (January 1st)

Like in most countries, Turkey is on holiday after a night of celebrating the new year. During December 31st many people go out and enjoy the last hours of the year. Either at home with a homemade feast or outside at a local pub, people usually stay up late after the countdown. So Jan 1st is a holiday to get some rest.

National Sovereignty and Children's Day (April 23rd)

The importance of this date is that it marks the first time Grand National Assembly opened during the War of Independence. In 23 April 1920, the Grand Assembly started its meetings that was the foundations of the Republic of Turkey. In 1921, April 23rd became the first public holiday of Turkey to show how important this event was and it is celebrated on this date each year ever since.

In 1927, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Atatürk, has dedicated this holiday to children. Since 1933, children take over the positions of the Grand Assembly members for the day and address issues that are important for them, such as education.

In 1970, UNICEF recognized this holiday as an international Children's event. Ever since the recognition, children from almost all countries come to visit Turkey each year and perform their national dances to represent their culture and show their talents for music and sports. In return, they learn about tTurkish culture.

Labor and Solidarity Day (May 1st)

Labor day is celebrated in Turkey as it is celebrated in more than 80 countries. The other names for Labor and Solidarity Day are International Worker's Day and May Day.

Origin of the holiday is from the USA. In 1884, the American Unions demanded work hours to be eight-hours-a-day and they wanted this to start in May 1st 1886. After a general strike and riots, eight-hour work days were established.

Even though they are the date's origin, Labor Day is not celebrated on May 1st in the USA. They choose to celebrate is in September.

In Turkey, people can join demonstrations about their rights and conditions on May 1st, though the tension can get high on this day. Some public transports are shut down to prevent a high number of demonstrator to get together on May 1st.

Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day (May 19th)

May 19th 1919 is the date when Atatürk's boat arrived at a city called Samsun from Istanbul and this marks the beginning of Turkey's War of Independence. During the first years of the Republic of Turkey, this date was not holiday and there were no celebrations. Atatürk himself had suggested this day to be celebrated as the day of the youth in 1936. With this, May 19th became a public holiday, called Youth and Sports Day. In 1981, since Atatürk was born 100 years ago, the holiday was turned into Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day.

Today, May 19th is celebrated with the youth of Turkey doing sports and different activities in stadiums and citizens supporting them.

Democracy and National Solidarity Day (July 15th)

The most recent public holiday of Turkey marks the date of the coup attempt that took place in July 15th 2016. A faction of Turkish Armed Forces tried to take over the government on the night of July 15th. They failed soon after and today, this date has become a public holiday and an important reminder to stay together against the divisive forces.

Victory Day (August 30th)

Victory day marks the day when the most important battle was won against the Greek forces in the War of Independence. This made sure the War's general outcome was a victory as well. It took few more months for the occupying forces to leave Turkey for good, but Turkish people accept this day as the day Turkey gained its freedom.

Today, Turkish people spend this day watching the parades and ceremonies by the Turkish Army and the demonstration flights by Turkish air forces that leave red and white marks. You can also see many shops and homes decorate their windows with Turkish flags on this day. During the evening there are many concerts in the cities, singing joyous songs.

Republic Day (October 29th)

Republic day is always celebrated on October 29th, which marks the date when the Republic of Turkey was formed. After the War of Independence was won, the occupying forces left the country and Turkish nationalists led by Atatürk proclaimed that Turkey would be a republican country. On October 29th 1923, a new constitution took over the Ottoman Empire's constitution and a new era has began for Turkey.

Today, this day is celebrated by different activities, such as concerts, theaters and traditional dances. Many people gather in stadiums watch the performances. You can see Turkish flags on the streets and all over the buildings. In the evening, celebrations continue with concerts and fireworks.

Ramadan Feast (Ramazan Bayramı)

Ramadan Feast, Ramazan Bayramı in Turkish, is the name of Eid al-Fitr in Turkey. Month of Ramadan is a very important time for Muslim people since this is when Qur'an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Muslim people fast during the Ramadan month and this practice of fasting is called Sawm. Ramazan Bayramı or Ramadan Feast is a celebration that marks the end of fasting. People celebrate this time with their loved ones with a renewed sense of appreciation for the things they have after a month of fasting.

Another important part of Ramazan Bayramı celebrations is Zekat (Zakat al-Fitr), which is giving money to the less fortunate. The amount of money given depends of the money that person have.

During Ramazan Bayramı celebrations people show gratitude to Allah. After prayers, there is imam's sermon and the sermon is on the subjects of asking for forgiveness, mercy and peace.

In Turkey, Ramazan Bayramı is also called Candy Festival, because it is a tradition to give candy and handkerchiefs with hidden money to the children.

Ramazan Bayramı is a three-day holiday, but usually the government extends the holiday so that it would end up being public holiday for the whole work week, making it a nine-day holiday in total. It is best not to travel at the start and the end of the holiday, every form of transportation gets very crowded during these times.

The dates of Ramazan Bayramı changes each year since it follows the Islamic lunar calendar. For 2020, Ramazan Bayramı is on Wednesday, May 24th.

Sacrifice Feast (Kurban Bayramı)

Sacrifice Feast, or Kurban Bayramı in Turkish, also known as Eid al-Adha, means Feast of Sacrifice. Kurban Bayramı commemorates Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son in order to obey Allah until he was stopped by a voice from the heaven. Muslim people sacrifice cows or rams during Kurban Bayramı. One third of the meat is for the family, one third goes to relatives and the remaining is donated to the less fortunate.

The sacrifice happens in the first day of the bayram and for the remaining three days, most people eat meat, even the people who normally can't afford to. Helping the people in need is a big part of the Kurban Bayramı tradition.

The first and last days of Kurban Bayramı is a difficult time to travel in Turkey since it can be very crowded and chaotic. It is best to avoid intercity transport and keep in mind that holiday resorts can also be crowded with local tourists during this time. For 2020, Kurban Bayramı is on Wednesday, July 31st.

2020 Turkish Holidays

Here is the list of the national holidays for Turkey in 2020.

DayDateHoliday Name
WednesdayJanuary 1st, 2020New Year’s Day
ThursdayApril 23rd, 2020National Sovereignty and Children’s Day
FridayMay 1st, 2020Labor and Solidarity Day
TuesdayMay 19th, 2020Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day
SaturdayMay 23rd, 2020Eve of Ramazan Bayramı
SundayMay 24th, 2020Ramadan Feast
MondayMay 25th, 2020Ramadan Feast
TuesdayMay 26th, 2020Ramadan Feast
WednesdayJuly 15th, 2020Democracy and Solidarity Day
ThursdayJuly 30th, 2020Eve of Sacrifice Feast
FridayJuly 31st, 2020Sacrifice Feast
SaturdayAugust 1st, 2020Sacrifice Feast
SundayAugust 2nd, 2020Sacrifice Feast
MondayAugust 3rd, 2020Sacrifice Feast
SundayAugust 30th, 2020Victory Day
ThursdayOctober 29th, 2020Republic Day

Özge Erdem

Özge’s career goals changed big time during the third year of her major, when she realized she had no wish to be a chemical engineer. After traveling Asia and doing various nomadic jobs, she settled back in Turkey to start her dream job of building websites and copy-writing with her high school friend.

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