HOLIDAY: Children’s Day “Çocuk Bayramı” in Turkey

National Cupcake Day, National Pancake Day, National Caramel Day, National Be Kind to a Stranger Day…

Jason and I recently listened to a podcast episode about holidays in America. It seems like all of these “National Holidays” came out of nowhere and we have no idea how they got there. But this episode explained how they all came to be. The short story is that Congress passed a lot of commemorative days back in the ’80s, but now a holidays are submitted to a calendar company for unofficial approval for just about any holiday you can think of.

But moving on…

because, you know, we now live in Turkey…

and there are a couple things you should know…

1. There are a few unique national holidays here that we don’t usually celebrate in the states. (or at least, I didn’t)
2. Turkey is serious about their National holidays.

Which leads us to Turkey’s national holiday in April known as Çocuk Bayramı.

Çocuk Bayramı, also know as “Children’s Day”, is a BIG HUGE deal. There is also a “Gençler Bayramı”, Youth Holiday, here in May, and all the school shut down for it… (P.s. – you just learned like 3 new Turkish words there! Çocuk – child, Genç – youth/young person, and Bayram – holiday)

Children Day Celebrations. Picture credit to TRT.

So what is Çocuk Bayramı?

The official name of this holiday is “National Sovereignty and Children’s Day“. In Turkey, it is held on the anniversary of the founding of the parliament in 1920, the holiday is viewed by Turks as a gift from Ataturk not just to Turkish children, but to children of the world (Told you, MAJOR bigtime).

Children Day Celebrations. Picture credit to TRT

So what happens?

Schools have special ceremonies to celebrate the day. Children all over Turkey dress up in special outfits or the national costume for Çocuk Bayrami. Boys who dress in the national costume typically wear baggy silk pants, a colorful vest, a white shirt and a sequined hat, called a tepelik. Girls wear a long colorful gown called a kaftan and an ornate veil. Many children perform in plays or musicals. We actually saw a large group of about 500 kids practicing for a ceremony.

Since 1979 the centrepiece of the holiday, TRT (Turkish Radio and Television Cooperation) and the state TV company sponsors a worldwide children’s festival in Ankara.  Children from many nations are invited to Turkey to take part in the creative and beautiful events. You can read more about it here.

Children Day Celebrations. Picture credit to TRT.

In the past, over 150 different countries have participated with about 30,000 children. While it is usually celebrated in Ankara, in 2000 other big cities of Turkey such as İstanbul, Antalya, İzmir, Bursa, Konya, Gaziantep, started their own celebrations. This year, Children Festival will be held April 18-26 in a city called Nevşehir which is in the central region of Turkey . About 30 countries are expected to participate to this festival. I encourage you to check out more pictures here.

Children Day Celebrations. Picture credit to TRT.


Children Day Celebrations. Picture credit to TRT


Children Day Celebrations. Picture credit to TRT

The celebrations do not stop there. Hotels, shopping malls, restaurants, and practically everyone else celebrates by having festivals or shopping sales! It is a huge celebration for families here which is a central part to the culture.

So if you are in Turkey, be on the lookout for children’s events near you! A few events I found in Izmir:
List of events via
Folk Art Towers
Mavi Bahçe
Swiss Otel

Questions for the readers:

Turkish readers:
How did you celebrate Cocuk Bayramı this year?

Non-Turkish readers:
Do you have a National Children’s Day in your country?
What is a cool holiday you celebrate near you?


Children Day Celebrations. Picture credit to TRT