Today is the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day (Atatürk’ü Anma, Gençlik ve spor Bayramı), a national holiday in Turkey, always celebrated on 19 May.

History of Youth and Sports Day

The founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, arrived in Samsun on May 19, 1919, to start a popular uprising against the decision of the World War I allies to divide many territories of the defeated Ottoman Empire.

Mustafa Kemal, with his accompanying 18 soldiers, arrived in Samsun on 19 May 1919.- Photograph courtesy of Sözcü

Turkey presently accepts the date of Atatürk’s arrival in Samsun as the starting date of the Turkish War of Independence. Following Atatürk’s wish, the Turkish government declared May 19 to be Youth and Sports Day and made it an official holiday in 1938. The day received its present name, the “Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day”, in 1981, which became the 100th anniversary of Atatürk’s birth.

How is Youth and Sports Day celebrated?

In the run-up to the May 19 celebrations, young Turkish athletes carry the national flag from Samsun, a Black Sea port from where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk started Turkey’s War of Independence in 1919, to Ankara, the country’s capital. The marathon usually takes about 10 days. The Turkish president accepts the flag at a ceremony on May 19.

A Minutes silence is also observed in memory of Atatürk and wreaths and flowers are laid at monuments of Atatürk throughout country

Various sports events take place on May 19 throughout Turkey. Many people celebrate this day by watching athletes perform at their local stadiums or by participating in sports events that are open to the public, such as half-marathons.

Many Turks also observe May 19 as Atatürk’s birthday. Although the exact date of his birth is not known, Atatürk used to say he was born on May 19 (referring to his political career).

Many people hang Turkish flags outside their windows.

Public Life

The Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day is an official holiday in Turkey. All administration buildings, post offices, schools, and most businesses are closed on this day.

Keep an eye out in Fethiye for local events.

Sources: timeanddate.com; office holidays.com

 

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