When Istanbul goes Red!

Updated: Jan 20, 2019

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you see hangings of the same flag in different neighborhoods and districts? Solidarity? Independence? Pride? Demonstration? Those were my exact thoughts the last time I saw these many flags. It was my first day in Istanbul, and I couldn't help but subject myself to a “counting” challenge. As I looked through the windows of the bus that would eventually take me to my residence, I began to spot red flags. These flags, each with a white crescent moon and a white star filled the balconies of people's homes. They also hang in front of many small shops and on several commercial buildings. I thought to myself, "What patriotism!" Those flags were the Turkish national flag.

Big Turkish flags on buildings in Istanbul

Soon, I could not keep track of the displayed flags. I was doing very well with my [mental] tally until I spotted flags floating in distances I could now see but had not taken into account. After arriving at my dormitory, I guesstimated that the number of flags I had seen during the one-and-half hour drive or so was not less than a hundred. I thought that it was one of Turkey’s cultural norms to hang flags all over. However, thanks to the onsite director's mention of a holiday and some Googling, I figured out that my first impression about the flags was wrong. I found out the real reason behind the flags the next day. Victory!

August 30th is known as Victory Day in Turkey. According to the Free Dictionary, Turks remember their victory in the Greco-Turkish war of 1920. The day also honors Ataturk, the national hero who established the Republic of Turkey. It also celebrates the nation’s military. In celebrating Victory Day, people hang the Turkish flags in front of their homes and shops to honor this important history.

For me, displaying national flags in such manner is a way of showing how proud and nationalistic a person is to his/her country. I was delighted to experience such national pride after arriving in the country. Ghanaian nationalism is often seen during Independence Day and interestingly, during international soccer matches. It is therefore not uncommon to see a Ghanaian flag displayed somewhere in my house or a red-yellow-green outfit during these events. Thus, I display my country’s flag sometimes in observation of a national event or holiday.


“Turkey Victory Day.” The Free Dictionary. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sep. 2015.

In fall 2015, Trudy studied abroad in Istanbul, Turkey. She shares her experience in this journal she had to write for one of her immersion classes.

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