Independence Day in Estonia Date in the current year: February 24, 2024

Independence Day in Estonia Estonian Independence Day (Eesti Vabariigi aastapäev) is the national day of Estonia. It marks the anniversary of the Manifesto to the Peoples of Estonia (the Estonian Declaration of Independence) that was published on February 24, 1918, establishing the Republic of Estonia.

Like many other former Soviet republics, Estonia has two independence-related observances. Estonian Independence Day commemorates the day when Estonia became an independent republic for the first time in 1918, whereas Independence Restoration Day marks the day when Estonia split from the Soviet Union in 1991 and reestablished itself as an independent republic.

Estonia’s path to independence was long. For a large part of its history, Estonia was a battleground where Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Poland, and Russia battled for dominance and control over the region. After the defeat of Sweden in the Great Northern War, Estonia became part of the Russian Empire.

Estonians came to acknowledge themselves as a nation deserving the right to self-determination in the mid-19th century. This period is now referred to as the Estonian Age of Awakening. What started as a cultural movement eventually took on more political tones in response to the policy of Russification imposed by the central government.

Following the collapse of the Russian Empire as a result of the February Revolution of 1917, Estonia was granted national autonomy by the Russian Provisional Government. The Estonian Provincial Assembly was created as the national assembly of Estonia.

On the eve of the German occupation of Estonia in the First World War, the assembly created the Estonian Salvation Committee that drafted the Estonian Declaration of Independence. Originally intended to be proclaimed on February 21, 1918, the Declaration was proclaimed publicly on February 23 and printed on February 24.

Estonian Independence Day was originally established in 1919, when the Estonian Provisional Government decided to consider February 24 to be the date of the declaration of independence. In the early 1930s, it was suggested that the national day be moved to a more favorable time of the year, such as June 15 (the anniversary of the adoption of the 1920 Constitution of Estonia), but the suggestion didn’t gain much support.

Of course, the holiday wasn’t celebrated officially in the Estonian SSR, since the Soviet government strove to suppress any manifestations of nationalism in the republics. The national day of Estonia was restored in 1991, after the country regained independence.

Since 1993, Estonian Independence Day has been marked with an annual parade of the Estonian Defense Forces. Another important tradition is a festive reception organized by the President of Estonia. At the reception, a number of people are presented with state decorations for various accomplishments and contributions. Both the parade and the reception are held in a new city every year. Other festive events include concerts and firework displays held in cities and towns throughout the country.

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