By 1920, after the first world war, the Ottoman empire was in tatters. Not only were the victors intent in sharing out the remnants of the empire among themselves, but there was an internal movement to separate Turkey from the former empire. Hence, the Ottoman army found itself fighting an external war with internal intentions.
The seat of government at this time was with the Ottoman court in Istanbul. On the 23rd April 1920, however, a new, but as yet unrecognised, Turkish National Assembly was opened in Ankara, laying down the foundations for a new, independent, secular, and modern republic from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire.
After the defeat of the invasion forces in September 1922, and the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in July 1923, Ataturk started to establish the institutions and infrastructure of the new state. April 23rd was chosen as the National Sovereignty and Children's day. This was in recognition that Turkey was a new country, and its future lay in the hands of the children and that "Sovereignty belongs unconditionally to the people". This was a remarkable gesture by a man who had no children of his own, but adopted eight, and reflected the love and deep esteem he had for children.
The children, of course, are hugely grateful for this, as not only do they get a day off school, but adults have to be nice to them, and generally give them presents.
Throughout the TRNC, in most towns and villages, children take part in displays, folk dancing and traditional songs.
In 1979, UNICEF recognised this important national day as an international event. There is normally a major event in Nicosia, with children from all over the world helping to celebrate this day, known world wide as the International Children's and Peace Festival.
For a list of all North Cyprus holiday dates, click here.