Aromanian National Day Date in the current year: May 23, 2024

Aromanian National Day Aromanian National Day is the national day of a Romance ethnic group of the Balkans, known as the Aromanians, Vlachs, or Macedo-Romanians. It is celebrated on May 23 to commemorate the recognition of the Aromanians as a separate millet (linguistic and ethno-religious community) within the Ottoman Empire in 1905.

During the Middle Ages, the Aromanians and other Romance ethnic groups of the Balkans were referred to as the Vlachs. The first mention of this exonym dates back to the 11th century. The term “Aromanians” was first used by German linguist Gustav Weigland in 1894. He derived it from the endonym Armãnji or Rrãmãnji (depending on the dialect).

According to scholars, Romance ethnic groups of the Balkans (Romanians, Moldovans, Aromanians, Megleno-Romanians) are descendants of local Illyrian tribes that were Romanized after the Roman conquest of the Balkan Peninsula. As we’ve already mentioned above, during the Middle Ages, they were collectively known as the Vlachs.

The development of a distinct Aromanian national consciousness and the separation of the Aromanians from the rest of the Balkan Romance peoples began in the 19th century due to the rise of the Balkan nationalism in the Ottoman Empire. However, it was hampered by the tendency of the Aromanian upper classes to identify with the dominant nations of the region (Albanians, Bulgarians, Romanians, Serbs). Because of this, some researchers call the Aromanians the “chameleons of the Balkans”.

And then there was a rift between pro-Greek and pro-Romanian Aromanians following the foundation of the unified Romanian state and the ecclesiastical independence of the Romanian Orthodox Church. The so-called Aromanian Question remains unsolved to this day; some Aromanians identify with Greek culture, some are pro-Romanian, and some see themselves as purely Aromanian.

In the early 20th century, pro-Romanian Aromanians, having secured the support of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, achieved recognition as a distinct millet in the Ottoman Empire. This means that they were recognized as an ethno-religious and linguistic community that was allowed to rule itself under its own rules. It occurred in May 1905.

Today, the Aromanians live mostly in Greece, Romania, North Macedonia, Albania, and Bulgaria. In addition, there are small Aromanian communities (several dozen to several hundred people) in Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In 1991, a group of Aromanian organizations and associations declared May 23 the Aromanian National Day to commemorate the recognition of the Aromanians as a distinct millet. Because of the Aromanian Question, the day is not recognized by the Aromanians of Greece. It is mostly celebrated by pro-Romanian Aromanians living in Albania, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, and Romania.

The government of North Macedonia officially recognized Aromanian National Day in 2007 (as the “National Day of the Vlachs”) and declared it a non-working holiday for all Macedonian citizens of Aromanian ethnicity.

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Aromanian National Day, cultural observances, Aromanians, Aromanian Question, Aromanian national consciousness