Székely Freedom Day in Romania Date in the current year: March 10, 2024

Székely Freedom Day in Romania Székely Freedom Day (Ziua Libertății Secuilor) is celebrated by ethnic Hungarians living in the so-called Székely Land in Romania. It was created by the Szekler National Council in 2012 and is observed on March 10.

The Székelys (Romanian: Secui) are a subgroup of the Hungarian minority of Romania. According to statistics, between 500,000 and 700,000 Hungarians living in Romania identify as Székelys. Most Székelys live in one of the three counties that make up the Székely Land: Covasna County, Harghita County, and Mures County.

The origin of the Székelys is unclear and has been subject of much debate. They have claimed descent from the Huns, but most scholars suggest either Magyar or Turkic origin. The word “Székely” is derived from a Hungarian expression that means “frontier guards”. In the Middle Ages, the Székelys became famous as brave warriors.

When predominantly Romanian-speaking Transylvania became part of the Kingdom of Hungary, its political, economic and social life was dominated by Unio Trium Nationum (“Union of the Three Nations”): the Magyars, the Saxons, and the Székelys. Each of the nations represented a particular estate: nobles, burghers, and the military, respectively.

Following the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I and its disintegration, Hungary and the Allies signed the Treaty of Trianon that defined the borders of the independent Hungarian state. According to the treaty, Transylvania was ceded to Romania, and Transylvanian Székelys became Romanian subjects.

In 1952, the communist authorities of Romania created the Magyar Autonomous Region, with the capital in Târgu Mureș. However, after Nicolae Ceaușescu came into power in 1965, he restarted the policy of Romanization in order to assimilate the Hungarian population of Transylvania. Because of this, the Magyar Autonomous Region was dissolved in 1968.

Following the Romanian Revolution of 1989 and the fall of Ceaușescu’s regime, the Székelys began to campaign for the autonomy of the Székely Land. In 2003, a group of Székelys formed the Szekler National Council, a civic organization designed to represent Romanian Székelys and promote Szekler autonomy.

In 2012, the Szekler National Council established Székely Freedom Day. It is observed on March 10 to commemorate the execution of three Hungarian revolutionaries in Târgu Mureș on this day in 1854. After the defeat of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, they tried to organize a new revolutionary group in Bucharest, but were arrested by the Austrian authorities and sentenced to death.

In addition to a peaceful ceremony at the Marosvasarhely Szekely Martyrs memorial in Târgu Mureș, Székely Freedom Day is usually marked with protests in support of the autonomy of the Székely Land which sometimes result in clashes between the protesters and the authorities. In 2020, demonstrations couldn’t be held due to the COVID-19 restrictions. Instead of protests, the Szekler National Council collected signatures in support of Szekler autonomy, which were sent to the European Citizens’ Initiative.

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Székely Freedom Day in Romania, observances in Romania, Hungarians in Romania, Székely, Székely Land