Today is the 103rd Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day (Atatürk’ü Anma, Gençlik ve Spor Bayramı), a national holiday in Turkey, celebrated on 19 May to commemorate Mustafa Kemal’s landing at Samsun on May 19, 1919, which is regarded as the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence. 

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.

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, 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 minute’s silence is also observed in memory of Atatürk and wreaths and flowers are laid at monuments of Atatürk throughout the 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 and from balconies.

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.

Atatürk’ü Anma, Gençlik ve Spor Bayramı Kutlu Olsun

Sources: timeanddate.com/ office holidays.com