Edirne - We heard what sounded like a band playing on a nearby street so we followed the music.
Sure enough, around the corner, a petite Turkish woman was leading a parade through the city streets of Edirne.
We knew Saturday, April 23, marked an important holiday in the Turkish calendar called International Children's Day, a day that honors all children as the country’s future generation. We later learned April 23 also marks the anniversary of the inauguration of Turkey’s National Assembly, which took place on April 23, 1920, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Turkey officially celebrated Grand National Assembly Day on April 23 and held a children’s week starting on that day, from 1923 to 1934. The Turkish government then combined the two events into National Sovereignty and Children’s Day, known as Ulusal Egemenlik ve Çocuk Bayramı, in 1935.
|A statue honoring President Ataturk in the main square of Edirne.|
The city’s streets were lined with red Turkish flags everywhere - that should of been a clear indication that a celebration would be happening. However, we had only arrived in Edirne a few hours earlier and didn’t know what to expect.
We stood along the sidelines of a cobble-stone sidewalk and watched the parade. The exuberant crowd of people were singing, waving flags and carrying torches throughout the streets. Even though I didn’t understand what they were singing, I couldn’t help but smile and clap my hands along with everyone else.
I guess the next time we are in an unfamiliar town we’ll recognize the abundance of Turkish flags and know we could be in for a celebration.