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Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day in Turkey

The Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day in Turkey features state ceremonies and sports events throughout the country on May 19 each year. Young Turkish athletes carry the Turkish flag from a Black Sea port to the country’s capital to commemorate Turkey’s War of Independence (1919–1923).

collage of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk at Samsun Turkey and boy with Turkish flag painted on his face.
The Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day is annually celebrated in Turkey on May 19.
The Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day is annually celebrated in Turkey on May 19.
©iStockphoto.com/atakss

What Do People Do?

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.

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. University students usually prepare special programs for their teachers and parents on this day.

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 lay wreaths to Atatürk’s monuments and 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. Public transport routes may vary in the event of marathons and similar events.

Background

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, which became the 100th anniversary of Atatürk’s birth.

Symbols

The Turkish flag, images of Atatürk and the boat on which he arrived in Samsun, as well as images related to sports are the symbols of the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day in Turkey.

Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday Type
WedMay 192010Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports DayNational holiday
ThuMay 192011Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports DayNational holiday
SatMay 192012Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports DayNational holiday
SunMay 192013Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports DayNational holiday
MonMay 192014Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports DayNational holiday
TueMay 192015Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports DayNational holiday
ThuMay 192016Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports DayNational holiday
FriMay 192017Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports DayNational holiday
SatMay 192018Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports DayNational holiday
SunMay 192019Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports DayNational holiday
TueMay 192020Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports DayNational holiday

Quick Facts

Many people in Turkey annually observe the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day on May 19 by attending sports events and remembering Turkey’s War of Independence, which started on this day in 1919.

Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day 2016

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day 2017

Friday, May 19, 2017

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Name in other languages

NameLanguage
Atatürk’ü Anma, Gençlik ve Spor BayramıTurkish
Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports DayEnglish
Gedenktag für Atatürk/Tag des Sports und der JugendGerman

List of dates for other years

Related holiday

Other holidays in May 2016 in Turkey

Fun Holiday on May 19, 2016

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