Independence Day in Georgia Date in the current year: May 26, 2024

Independence Day in Georgia Georgia celebrates its Independence Day on May 26 every year. It is the national day of Georgia that commemorates the establishment of the short-lived Democratic Republic of Georgia in 1918.

Georgia was first unified as a kingdom in the 9th and 10th centuries by King Bagrat III, the founder of the Bagrationi dynasty. The Kingdom of Georgia flourished for two centuries, but was conquered by the Mongol Empire by 1243. After a brief reunion under King George V, Georgia fell to the Timurid Empire. Eventually it was fragmented into a number of small principalities and kingdoms, which struggled to maintain their autonomy against Persian and Ottoman domination.

By 1810, the Russian Empire annexed the Georgian kingdoms of Kartli-Kakheti and Imereti, and absorbed the remaining Georgian territories over the course of the 19th century. Royal families of the various Georgian states were sent into exile, and the region was placed under military governorship.

The assassination of Emperor Alexander II led to increasing tensions in the various parts of the Russian empire, including Georgia, which resulted in the rise of the Social Democratic movement. In the aftermath of the 1917 revolutions in Russia (both February and October), Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia declared the Transcaucasian Federation on April 22, 1918.

The newly independent state was short-lived. On May 26, Georgia split from the federation and announced the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. Unfortunately, the young state was unable to withstand the Bolshevik invasion three years later, and was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1922.

During the Soviet era, Georgia Independence Day was clandestinely observed by a small number of people who opposed the Communist regime. On April 9, 1991, Georgia declared its independence from the Soviet Union, and the country’s first presidential election was set on May 26 because of the symbolism of the date.

Georgia is one of the several former Soviet republics that gained their independence twice: before being incorporated into the Soviet Union and after. Therefore both dates, May 26 and April 9, are observed as public holidays. The government of Georgia decided to celebrate Independence Day on May 26 because it was the first time that Georgia became an independent republic, and the country’s independence from the Soviet Union is considered the restoration of its independence declared in 1918. April 9 is celebrated as National Unity Day.

For over a decade, Georgia Independence Day was a civilian observance. In 2004, the newly inaugurated president Mikheil Saakashvili introduced the tradition of holding military parades to exhibit the personnel and new equipment of the country’s armed forces. In 2012, military parades were replaced by public exhibitions of military technology and oath-taking ceremonies.

Independence Day celebrations in Georgia are associated with political speeches and ceremonies, flag hoisting, concerts and festivals, fairs and exhibitions, and other public events celebrating the country’s rich history and culture. A particularly big celebration, with over 20 high level delegations in attendance, took place in 2018 on the occasion of the centennial independence anniversary.

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