A new circular on the celebration of national holidays that has just been approved by the president will no longer limit the celebrations of these holidays to stadiums, making the public’s participation in the ceremonies possible.
The national holidays circular was jointly prepared by the Prime Ministry, General Staff and the ministries of education, culture and tourism, and youth and sports. The circular was drafted following a recent ruling by the Council of State that put a stay on a prime ministerial decree that forbade the celebration of May 19, Atatürk Commemoration and Youth and Sports Day, ceremonies in stadiums. The Ministry of Education decided earlier this year to cancel the May 19 celebrations, which mark the anniversary of the beginning of the War of Independence, claiming that students were being negatively affected by the ceremonies. After days of practice, high school students parade in military formation around stadiums across Turkey and perform drills to celebrate May 19, which the general public would not normally attend.
According to the circular, celebrations of national holidays including April 23, Aug. 30 and Oct. 29 will no longer be held in stadiums but in city squares to make the participation of the public in these ceremonies easier. Municipalities, which up until now have not played a very significant role in the organization of celebrations, will be more actively involved in the preparations for national holidays. The celebrations will include concerts in line with demands from young people. In addition, theaters, performance venues and fairgrounds will also be used for the celebrations where relevant plays, movies and shows will be put on. Schools will also be able to organize picnics for students. Students and schools will not be told to hold their celebrations and instead will be allowed to come up with their own programs. The government asserts that military-style celebrations which take place in stadiums are reminiscent of dictatorial or communist regimes and says the way Turkey marks its national holidays should become more “civilianized.”