Geok Tepe Memorial Day

Observed on January 12th in Turkmenistan every year, Geok Tepe Memorial Day is a holiday that commemorates the heroes of the 1881 Battle at Geok Tepe. This battle took place between the Turkmen and the Russians as Russia began its imperialistic expansion into the country. This day is also known as Turkmenistan Memorial Day, and it’s a national holiday.

As a national holiday, it’s a non-working day for most people, and public transportation operates at reduced capacity. It’s also a day when schools, government offices, and many businesses are closed, allowing people to attend some of the memorial events that take place on this holiday.

The History of Geok Tepe Memorial Day in Turkmenistan

During the 19th century, Russia began its imperialistic expansion into land owned by the Turkmen. As they entered the country, they met fierce resistance, and the Turkmen ended up retaliating by raiding Khorezm in what is now Uzbekistan. This resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Russians.

In 1881, the Russians met significant resistance at the Battle of Geok Tepe. During the battle, over 7,000 Turkmen were massacred at Geok Tepe near Ashgabat, and another 8,000 were slaughtered as they fled across the desert.

Following this battle, the Russian Empire controlled most of what is now modern-day Turkmenistan. This made Russia’s attempted conquest of Central Asia a complete success, as Turkmenistan was annexed into the Russian Empire.

Following the Russian Revolution, Turkmenistan would then become a part of the Soviet Union and would remain so until they gained their independence in 1991 following the fall of the USSR. One of the first acts as a free country was to create this holiday in honor of the fallen brave Turkmen who attempted to save their country from Russian aggression.

Observing Geok Tepe Memorial Day in Turkmenistan

This holiday is observed in Turkmenistan with memorial services and wreath-laying ceremonies. People also use the day off to spend time with friends and family members.

Where is it celebrated?
Turkmenistan (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
January 12 Friday
Next year (2025)
January 12 Sunday
Last year (2023)
January 12 Thursday