Book Smugglers Day in Lithuania Date in the current year: March 16, 2024

Book Smugglers Day in Lithuania Book Smugglers Day is a Lithuanian cultural observance held on March 16. It honors the people who defied a ban on Lithuanian language publications printed in the Latin alphabet within the Russian Empire.

After the Third Partition of Poland, the territory of Lithuania was controlled by the Russian Empire. The Imperial government wanted to alienate the Lithuanian population from its historic roots. After the January Uprising of 1863, Alexander II of Russia intensified the efforts to Russify the Lithuanians.

In 1864, he issued the Lithuanian press ban. It banned Lithuanian-language publications that used the Latin alphabet, while publications that used Cyrillic were encouraged. In protest, people began to print Latin-alphabet Lithuanian-language books and periodicals in Prussian Lithuania and smuggle them into Lithuania. These people were called book smugglers.

The first person to organize printing and smuggling was Motiejus Valančius, a Catholic bishop. In 1873, he was joined by Jurgis Bielinis who created a secret distribution network for banned books and newspapers. Bielinis made a significant contribution to the Lithuanian National Revival, therefore his birthday, March 16, was declared Book Smugglers Day.

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