Friday, April 18, 2014

National Sovereignty and Children's Day in Turkey

Merhaba from Istanbul, my faithful readers!  I am in Turkey visiting friends (more on them next post!) and I have learned that we are coming up on a very interesting holiday genuine to this country.  Solemn ceremonies and children's festivals take place throughout Turkey on National Sovereignty and Children's Day, held on April 23rd each year.  Children take seats in the Turkish Parliament and symbolically govern the country for one day. 

The date, April 23, marks the first gathering of the Grand National Assembly (the Turkish Parliament), which took place in 1920 during Turkey's War of Independence (1919-1923).  Mustafa Kemal Ataturk proclaimed the parliament an important step toward building a new state after the Ottoman Empire was defeated during World War I.  Ataturk reportedly dedicated the Turkish Republic to children in Turkey.

Every year on this day, Turkish schoolchildren take seats in the Parliament and symbolically govern the country.  They elect a president who then addresses the country on national television.  The state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) brings children, aged 8 to 14, from different countries around the world to Turkey who stay with Turkish families for a week and participate in children's festivals, which culminate in a gala-performance on April 23.

Pretty cool, huh?  Imagine if Kikwete stepped aside for just one day back in the Tanz and let the kids run things?  Absolute mayhem, especially with my little ruffians, but national holidays like these really go to show where a country's heart lies, what shared values form a nationhood, and who the denizens of any given land truly are.

Those are my musings for now....more next week when I am back from vacation.

Happy National Sovereignty and Children's Day to all!

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