Turkey is predominantly a Muslim society, and two of the main holidays are Islamic religious festivals. Other holidays celebrate national events such as the establishment of the Republic of Turkey and the life of the first President of the Republic, Kemal Atatürk.

An important month in the Muslim calendar is the month of fasting called Ramadan. During this time, Muslims do not eat or drink after sunrise or before sunset. Children are not expected to adhere to such a strict fast, but will often follow a less rigorous diet. Seker Bayrami, or the Sugar Festival, is held at the end of Ramadan. Family members wear new clothes, give each other presents and eat special dishes. Children receive candies and money from the adults.

Another important religious festival is the Kurban Bayrami, the Feast of Abraham's Sacrifice, a four-day festival when families share presents and enjoy special meals. According to tradition, each family must slaughter a ram, and distribute two-thirds of it to the needy.

April 23 is National Sovereignty and Children's Day. It commemorates the day on which the first Grand National Assembly, or republican parliament, met in 1920. Children from different parts of the world are invited to come to Turkey to join in the celebrations. Victory Day, August 30, commemorates the date in 1923 on which Turkey was able to successfully expel all foreign powers from Turkish soil. It is marked by a parade of military equipment and an air show.

 Did you know?
Although the Islamic lunar calendar was outlawed in 1925 and replaced with the Gregorian calendar, the major religious holidays are still calculated according to the Islamic lunar calendar.

The Commemoration of Atatürk on May 19, which marks the day the former leader began the war of independence in 1919, is also known as Youth and Sports Day. Schools hold sports competitions on this day. Turks also observe a minute of silence on November 10, because Atatürk died on that day in 1938. Republic Day on October 29 commemorates the proclamation of the republic in 1923. Many cities and towns hold parades on this day. New Year's Day on January 1 is also a public holiday.