Traditional Turkey Holidays & Celebrations


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Every one of us gets a particular sense of excitement on the night before a holiday, and it’s no wonder why! Holidays always mean special cuisine, fireworks, and family gatherings, all of which are important for a quality celebration of an important date.

In Turkey, people are able to enjoy 16 national holidays, all of which are celebrated to the fullest and in their best tradition! For all who wish to go on a trip to Turkey, prepare to experience traditional Turkish holidays to make sure you don't miss out on all the festivity!

Republic Day, October 29th

There is no doubt that Republic Day is the most famous and culturally integral holiday that is celebrated in Turkey. Republic Day marks the creation of the Turkish Republic, which replaced the constitution of the Ottoman Empire after having won the War of Independence in 1923. On that day, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who was the leader in the war, became Turkey’s first president and proclaimed the date as “Turkey’s most important holiday”.

To celebrate the holiday just like the locals, you can attend any of the many performances that are hosted, which usually consist of poetry readings, traditional Turkish dances, and theater sketches. As the day reaches evening, many cities have traditional processions with Turkish flags and live musical performances to commemorate the date.

Republic Day

The Ramadan Feast

The Ramadan Feast (Ramazan) is a Turkish holiday that comes after a month of fasting on the first day of Shawwal. Because the Islamic calendar begins with the first sighting of the new moon, the start date of the Ramadan Feast differs each year, however, what does not change are the traditions and the way that people celebrate the festival.

To enjoy the 3 day holiday of Sugar Fest, another word for the Ramadan Festival , people make time to visit relatives and pay respect to the elders in their families. A big part of celebrating the festival is gifting and receiving hand-made, mouthwatering Turkish sweets, such as the Baklava, Lokum, and Helva, which you can find during the day at most local markets.

If you are one of the lucky few who goes on a trip to Turkey during Ramadan, feel welcomed to join the evening celebrations at restaurants and order a meal from the banquet-like Ramadan menu!

The Ramadan Feast

Ramadan Fact:
Because the Islamic calendar is lunar, each month begins with the new astronomical moon, which means that the date of Ramadan always changes.

New Year’s Day, January 1st

Just like the rest of the world, Turkey too celebrates the beginning of a new year on the night of December 31st into January 1st. Because the majority of people in Turkey follow the religion of Islam, Christmas is not regarded as a public holiday, however, it is celebrated and even has an alternative version of Santa Clause named Noel Baba.

Besides all the family visiting and food preparation there is to do on New Year’s Eve, to make your upcoming New Year’s celebration more inline with the Turkish traditions, you can participate in the festivals held in public squares, where people gather to dance to upbeat Turkish songs. For all those who wish to indulge in the New Year’s food preparation, learn how to cook a traditional Turkish feast of roasted turkey for the whole family to enjoy.

As the countdown to midnight begins and the smaller hand of the clock is about to strike 12, raise your glasses, voice your toast, and confidently step into a new year as beautiful fireworks are launched into the starry sky just outside of your accommodation.

New Year

Yılgayah is a traditional Turkish holiday, which celebrates the New Year, and the coming of Spring.

National Sovereignty and Children's Day, April 23rd

A unique Turkish public holiday that celebrates two occasions at once is the National Sovereignty and Children’s Day. The first gathering of the Grand National Assembly, which is the Turkish Parliament, took place on April 23rd 1920. On this day, Mustafa Ataturk dedicated the Turkish Republic to children. Citizens celebrate the dual-holiday by attending local ceremonies in honor of Ataturk, the biggest of which is held at the Ataturk Mausoleum in Ankara, as well as exploring the kids’ festivals.

Because many of the Children’s Day celebrations go on for an entire week starting on the 23rd, you have the opportunity to attend other cities’ festivals and parades by booking any of the Turkey trains to your desired destination, enhancing your Turkish adventure!

Victory Day, August 30th

Turkish Armed Forces Day, or Victory Day, is a national festival and a public holiday in Turkey which reminds the nation of the price paid for the fresh air that the citizens breathe. The importance of independence day is symbolised with the Turkish flag and images of Mustafa Ataturk, that can be viewed by attending one of the many military parades.

The day commemorates the victory of the battle of Dumlupinar which played a decisive role in the Turkish War in 1922 and honours the founder of the Turkish Republic Mustafa Ataturk. The highlight of the public holiday is the main celebration, which is held at Anıtkabir, Ankara, where the Turkish President leads officials in laying wreaths and delivers an inspiring speech to the whole country.

Victory Day in Turkey

On August 30th, 1923 Turkish people celebrated Victory Day for the first time.

Atatürk Commemoration and Youth & Sports Day

The Turkish National Flag is carried from Samsun, a Black Sea port where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk began Turkey's War of Independence in 1919, to Ankara, the country's capital, in the days before the May 19 celebrations. Usually, the marathon lasts for about ten days. In a ceremony on May 19, the Turkish president accepts the flag.

Throughout Turkey, there are various sporting events scheduled for May 19. On this day, many people watch athletes perform at their local stadiums or they participate in public sports events, such as half marathons. Some university students hold special educational presentations for their parents and teachers.

The date of May 19 is also celebrated as Atatürk's birthday by many Turks. Despite not knowing the exact date of his birth, Atatürk used to say he was born on May 19 (referring to his political career). Turkey's monuments are decorated with wreaths, and many people display Turkish flags outside their windows.


While Turkey has a primarily Muslim population, Christmas and New Year celebrations have become a tradition, with huge pine trees lining the streets and Christmas decorations appearing in the big cities.


Turks do not celebrate Christmas or the birth of Jesus but celebrate the coming New Year in a festive atmosphere filled with new hopes and promises. Expats may feel as if they are home for the holidays as the streets and cafés are decorated with lights.

Christmas history is believed to have originated in the region now known as Turkey. Santa Claus, the Christmas tree story, and the home of the Virgin Mary are all related to Anatolia, and they are part of the Christmas tradition.

The Santa Claus in Turkey is called Noel Baba or Father Christmas.

To have truly visited and understood a country’s traditions, one must celebrate that country’s holidays. Amongst the numerous sight-seeing, landmark-visiting, and museum-exploring available to you, you can enhance your journey experience and deepen your appreciation for Turkish culture by participating in, and celebrating, local holidays alongside people who you value and to whom you want to show your appreciation. For all your Turkey tour needs, plan your journey with Firebird Tours!