Today is Turkish Independence Day (29 Ekim Cumhuriyet Bayramı). While the land of Turkey is rich in history and tradition, the modern Turkish republic is very young. Modern Turkey was founded on October 29th, 1923. Today marks the nation’s 88th birthday.
In honor of this holiday, large and small Turkish flags hang from the windows of most apartment and office buildings. Most schools open their doors for special celebrations (my school had a special assembly yesterday). Normally, this is a lively celebration that can be observed throughout the country. However, due to the recent earthquake, the marches, firework shows and other city-sponsored events have been cancelled to allow the country to mourn the loss of life in the Van region, following the earthquake. The bliss and excitement that usually accompanies this holiday has been replaced by a silent melancholy throughout Istanbul.