Happy Children's Day: History of April 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day

April 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day, which was gifted to children by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk on April 23, 1920, represents the establishment of the Grand National Assembly. With this important date, the Turkish Nation enters into a brand-new formation. Mustafa Kemal, who has infinite trust in children and believes that they are the future of the Turkish nation, presents this important day to them. Let's take a look at the history of April 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day, which is of great importance for the Turkish nation.


The Date It All Began: April 23, 1920

Turkey, which fought a great struggle for independence and freedom by starting the War of Independence, unconditionally entrusted sovereignty to the nation, starting with the establishment of the new parliament. Atatürk and his friends, who came together to bring the Turkish state to a democratic government, opened the parliament on April 23, 1920. On the occasion of announcing the establishment of a new state to the whole world, the opening day of the Turkish Grand National Assembly is declared the first national holiday.

In the first celebrations that was held in Ankara in 1922, children began to be at the forefront of the ceremony. By 1923, the Republic of Turkey, which was completely freed from enemy invasion with the War of Independence, started to celebrate April 23 with enthusiastic holiday events. Almost all the people of Ankara attended the celebrations, which started in the garden of the parliament and the crowd overflowed from the garden to the street. The official parade took place with great enthusiasm when children and students also attended the ceremony. From this date on, every April 23 began to be celebrated with performances by children and students.


April 23 is a Gift to Children

April 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day, one of the most important national holidays, is the combination of two separate holidays. The first of these is the National Holiday, which was declared on April 23, 1920, the opening date of the Turkish Grand National Assembly. The other is the National Sovereignty Day, which was declared on November 1, 1922, after the sultanate was abolished and the parliament became the sole legal power.

In 1927, the Etfal Society, under the auspices of Atatürk, made a proposal to make April 23 a children's day. When the proposal was accepted, this National Holiday began to be known as Children's Day. In 1935, it was combined with National Sovereignty Day and its name was changed to National Sovereignty and Children's Day.

In 1980, the National Security Council changed the name of the holiday to April 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day in order to eliminate the differences in practice and legislation.


Celebrations Increase with the Declaration of Children's Week

Himaye-i Etfal Society designated the dates between April 23 to 30 as Children's Week in 1929. The festival events, which were held for only one day until this year, were expanded and lasted for a week with different plays and shows. All students, including the Ministry of Education, participated in the children's week, which was held with the support of Atatürk and the government, in commemorative events. With these regulations, the interest in Children's Week and April 23 increased and spread to all cities.

In addition to the celebrations, during Children's Week, the Himaye-i Etfal Society provided various aid to thousands of children and requested donations and aid from the nation for children. By giving more importance to the problems experienced by children, it aimed to increase the interest in the architects of the future and to offer them new opportunities.

In 1933, Atatürk handed over his position to a child and chatted with him. Taking his interest and care towards children as an example, other ministers and public servants allocated their seats to the children and chatted with them. This behavior became a tradition and continues until today. Every year on April 23, children are placed in executive chairs for a day and conversations are held.


April 23 is an International Holiday!

In 1979, when UNICEF declared the International Children's Year in order to find solutions to the problems of all the children of the world, the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation implemented the International April 23 Children's Festival and took the holiday to an international dimension. Foreign children from many countries were invited to the commemoration events that is organized by TRT. Children from 34 countries participated in the April 23 events jointly organized by the Turkish Grand National Assembly and TRT in 1985. This holiday became a day when Turkish children shared love, friendship, and brotherhood with other children around the world and presented April 23 to the children of the world.

April 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day, which has a deep-rooted history, is a holiday not only for Turkish but also the children around the world. We commemorate Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his friends with endless respect and mercy on this special day that we celebrate with enthusiasm each year.