Today, Day Translations will take you to the country that shares its northwest borders with Greece and Bulgaria and its northern border with the Black Sea, Turkey. Turkey, officially called The Republic of Turkey has a unique geographical position that sees part of the country being in Europe and part of the country being in Asia.
While Istanbul is a world famous destination when we speak about Turkey, the country’s capital is Ankara. That said, today we’ll be zeroing in on one of Turkey’s most celebrated annual events called Victory Day.
What is Victory Day?
Victory Day pronounced ‘Zafer Bayramı’ in Turkish is a national holiday that’s celebrated on the 30th of August every year. You may also hear this day is referred to as ‘Armed Forces Day’. Of course, we explain how this day came about so keep reading.
Victory Day is celebrated as the day that commemorates Turkey’s victory in the Battle of ‘Dumlupınar’ which is translated in English to mean ‘Field Battle of the Commander-in-Chief’. ‘Dumlupınar’ was the final and decisive battle in the Turkish/Greek war which resulted in Turkey being the Victor. This final war took place right around the same time Victory Day is celebrated today.
The greatest significance of winning this battle for the Turks is that they gained their independence.
Victory Day also marks the birth of modern day Turkey and also recognizes the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who led the way for the country to be where it is today.
The History of Victory Day
The rich history behind Turkey’s Victory Day takes us back to the post World War 1 period. Because of the defeat of the Ottoman Empire during WWI, this resulted in Turkey being divided into parts that were controlled by Greece, Armenia, The United Kingdom, and Italy military forces; all being allied forces against Turkey.
Due to the country’s reality at that time, there was much dissatisfaction among the natives. This dissatisfaction led to The War of Independence in 1919 which took place in the province of Kütahya in western Turkey. This was known as the battle of ‘Dumlupınar’.
In addition to the ongoing war, the emergence of ‘Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’ as a leader took place, he played an integral role in leading Turkey to victory.
On October 29, 1923, the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed and the new capital, Ankara, was announced. At the same time, ‘Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was elected as their first President.
Turkey’s first Victory day celebration took place in 1924. The village of ‘Çal’ in Dumlupınar came alive and the newly installed president also took part in the celebrations. The “Monument of Unknown Soldier” was laid by the president which symbolized the importance of the Turkish people’s national spirit.
This first celebration was called ‘The Victory of the Commander-in-Chief’. This significant day was renamed ‘Victory Day’ a few years later in 1926 when it was also passed as law on April 26, to be celebrated on the 30th of August every year following that year.
A fun fact to note is that the 30th of August is also referred to as “Plane Day Celebrations”. Plan Day is observed to pay tribute to the Turkish Air Force that played a critical role in Turkey gaining victory in the war.
How Victory Day is celebrated in Turkey today
Today, both Turkey and Northern Cyprus celebrate Victory Day on a yearly basis. As we mentioned earlier, it’s a national holiday and the day is commemorated by celebrating both the Turkish military and Turkey as a republic.
The major celebrations of this day are held at the ‘Atatürk’s Mausoleum’ in the Turkish capital of Ankara. Other places such as the country’s War Academy in Istanbul hosts a ceremony where all military promotions are made on this day.
Other celebrations held on Victory Day include marches which are held in major cities across the country. Schools also host their celebrations with students of varying age groups getting together to perform activities that commemorate the many martyrs who passed away during the Independence War.
When Victory Day is celebrated in Turkey it symbolizes a heartfelt demonstration of the passion Turkish citizens have for their Independence as a nation.
Since the onset of the global pandemic in 2020, celebrations have had to go on in a more conservative manner. Covid-19 protocols have had to be observed and social distancing practiced but it still has not taken away anything from the significance of this historical day.
Victory day is a very important and significant day for all Turkish people. What major celebrations does your country have and what is its significance? Keep your eyes peeled to our Day Translations blog. Who knows, we may explore the cultural celebrations of your country next.