Tatar Language Day Date in the current year: April 26, 2024

Tatar Language Day Tatar Language Day, also referred to as Mother Tongue Day, is celebrated in the Republic of Tatarstan (Russian Federation) on April 26. It commemorates the birthday of Gabdulla Tuqay, a renowned Tatar poet, translator, critic and publicist, who is considered to be the founder of the modern Tatar literary language and literature.

The Tatar language is a Turkic language spoken by the Volga Tatars native to the Volga-Ural region of Russia. It should not be confused with Siberian Tatar or Crimean Tatar, which belong to other subgroups of the Kipchak languages. It is mostly spoken in Tatarstan, where it is the second official language alongside Russian, Bashkortostan, and some other regions of the Russian Federation. There are more than 5 million native speakers of Tatar in Russia, which makes it one of the most widely spoken minority languages in the country.

The Old Tatar language developed in the Golden Horde from the local dialect of the Old Turkic language. During its formation, it was influenced by Arabic, Persian, Russian, and Finno-Ugric languages. Old Tatar mostly used Arabic script. The formation of the modern Tatar language based on the Kazan dialect began in the mid-19th century; the turning point in this process was the transition to the Cyrillic script and the convergence of the literary language with the vernacular.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Tatar was declared the second official language in Tatarstan. For a long time, it was a mandatory subject in the schools of Tatarstan. However, in 2017, the parliament of Tatarstan voted for making it optional. A number of scholars and activists fear that this decision may endanger the Tatar language because children won’t have an incentive to learn the language and use it in their everyday communication, preferring to speak Russian.

Indeed, Tatar is considered a potentially endangered language despite a relatively large number of speakers. This is why Tatar Language Day is so important; its main goal is to raise awareness of the importance of preserving Tatar language and teaching it to the younger generations. The holiday is celebrated on April 26 to commemorate the birth anniversary of Gabdulla Tuqay.

Gabdulla Tuqay was a Tatar poet, critic and publicist credited with founding the modern Tatar literary language and literature. Despite a very short life (he died of tuberculosis at age 26), Tuqay’s legacy and contribution to the language and culture of Tatarstan are undeniable. He is widely referred to as the greatest Tatar poet, and his poem İ, Tuğan tel (“Oh My Mother Tongue!”) is considered the unofficial hymn of the Tatar language.

Tatar Language Day is marked by numerous events: a flower-laying ceremony at the monument to Gabdulla Tuqay in Kazan, followed by a traditional poetry festival at the monument, the Gabdulla Tuqay Award ceremony, poetry marathons, concerts, exhibitions, public lectures, and more. A special set of events takes place in the village of Qirlay, where Tuqay lived between 1892 and 1895. They are hosted by the Gabdulla Tuqay Museum.

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Tatar Language Day, Mother Tongue Day in Tatarstan, holidays in Tatarstan, holidays in Russia, cultural observances, Gabdulla Tuqay