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Great Union Day

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Great Union Day
Official nameRomanian: Ziua Națională a României
Also calledRomanian: Ziua Marii Uniri
Observed byRomania, Moldova (unofficially)
CelebrationsMilitary parades (most notably in Alba Iulia and Bucharest), fireworks
ObservancesTe Deum at the Alba Iulia Orthodox Cathedral
Date1 December
Next time1 December 2024 (2024-12-01)
Related toDay of the Unification of the Romanian Principalities (24 January)
Map of Romania in 1919 with new regions annexed to it.

Great Union Day (Romanian: Ziua Marii Uniri, also called Unification Day[1] or National Day) is a national holiday in Romania, celebrated on 1 December, marking the unification of Transylvania, Bassarabia, and Bukovina with the Romanian Kingdom in 1918, something that is known as the Great Union.[2] This holiday was declared after the Romanian Revolution and commemorates the Great National Assembly of the delegates of ethnic Romanians held in Alba Iulia, who declared the Union of Transylvania with Romania.[3]

Prior to 1948, until the abolition of the monarchy, the national holiday was on 10 May, which had a double meaning: it was the day on which King Carol I set foot on Romanian soil (in 1866), and the day on which the prince ratified the Declaration of Independence (from the Ottoman Empire) in 1877. From 1948, during the period of Communist administration, the national holiday was on 23 August, Liberation from Fascist Occupation Day, to mark the 1944 overthrow of the pro-fascist government of Marshal Ion Antonescu, with parades held in Charles de Gaulle Square (then called Stalin Square and later Aviators' Square).


Romanian postcard issued c. 1918–1919. Note the unusual shape of Romania's western borders as pictured on the map (the country is supposed to include all of Maramureș, a bigger part of Crișana, and possibly the entire Banat – pictured in white); the definitive borders would not be drawn until 1920.



Modern Romania appeared after the unification of Moldavia and Wallachia by prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza on 24 January 1859. This act, sometimes known as the Little Union, is now celebrated as the Day of the Unification of the Romanian Principalities (or Little Union Day).[4][5][6]

Great National Assembly of Alba Iulia

Romanian troops marching in Transylvania (here Piața Unirii, Cluj)
The Resolution of the Great National Assembly of Alba Iulia

On 1 December 1918 (November 18 Old Style), the Great National Assembly of Alba Iulia, consisting of 1,228 elected representatives of the Romanians in Transylvania, Banat, Crișana, and Maramureș, convened in Alba Iulia and decreed (by unanimous vote) "the unification of those Romanians and of all the territories inhabited by them with Romania".[7]

The Resolution voted by the National Assembly stipulated also the "fundamental principles for the foundation of the new Romanian State". It was conditional, and demanded the preservation of a democratic local autonomy, the equality of all nationalities and religions.[8] Later, the Romanian National Council of Transylvania [ro] was also formed.[9]

The next day, 2 December 1918, the Romanian National Council of Transylvania formed a government under the name of the Directing Council of Transylvania, Banat and the Romanian Lands in Hungary [ro], headed by Iuliu Maniu.[10]

On 11 December 1918 King Ferdinand I signed the Law regarding the Union of Transylvania, Banat, Crișana, the Satmar, and Maramureș with the Old Kingdom of Romania, decreeing that:[11]

The lands named in the resolution of the Alba-Iulia National Assembly of the 18th of November 1918 are and remain forever united with the Kingdom of Romania.

— Ferdinand I, 11 December 1918[11]

Declaration of the holiday


Resolution 903 of the Council of Ministers on 18 August 1949 had marked 23 August as the national holiday. Law 10/1990, declared on 1 August 1990, moved the national holiday to 1 December.[12] The law does not specify the significance of this day as the national holiday. It was adopted in 1990 by a parliament dominated by members of the National Salvation Front and promulgated by the president Ion Iliescu. The decision combated in some amount sympathy with the tradition of Romanian monarchy, associated with 10 May, but also disappointed the anti-communist opposition, who wished for the national holiday to be moved to 22 December.

The choice of 1 December, though not explicitly declared in the law, referred to the unification of the provinces of Transylvania, Banat, Crișana, and Maramureș with Romania in 1918. The choice of this day as a national holiday was seen as an affront to the Hungarian minority of Romania, which signified for them a loss in political power.[13]

First celebration


The first 1 December national holiday saw the largest celebrations in Alba Iulia, the location in which the proclamation of the union of Transylvania with Romania was signed. They were marked by significant political polarization: Corneliu Coposu, then the leader of the anticommunist opposition, was interrupted several times during a speech by boos from the crowd.[14] Petre Roman, then the prime minister, showed such pleasure at these repeated interruptions that Ion Iliescu had to gesture to him to stop. This signal was captured on film and spread widely by the mass media.[15]

National Military Parade

A Counter-Terrorism Battalion of the Romanian Intelligence Service on parade in 2008.

Every year, an annual military parade known officially as the National Military Parade (Romanian: Parada Militară Națională) of the Romanian Armed Forces either on the grounds of Piața Constituției (Constitution Square) or on Șoseaua Kiseleff just within metres of the Arcul de Triumf in central Bucharest is held in honor of the occasion.[16] A parade is also held in the city of Alba Iulia and other major cities.[citation needed]

The President of Romania is the guest of honor at the Bucharest parade. As Commander in Chief, the president receives the report of the Chief of the Romanian General Staff upon their arrival on the square to a bugle call fanfare being played by a lone trumpeter. After receiving the salute, the president walks to salute the color guard provided by the Michael the Brave 30th Guards Brigade before inspecting and greeting the guard of honor. After this, Deșteaptă-te, române! is then performed by the Massed Bands of the Bucharest Garrison, made partly from musicians of the 30th Guards Brigade and a combined military and civilian choir as a 21-gun salute is fired in the background. Following this, in the Kiseleff Road parade, the president lays a wreath at the Arcul de Triumf before heading back to the grandstand. After this, the parade commander, who is a general-ranked officer of the Armed Forces, then orders the start of the parade in the following manner:

Parade... attention! Ceremonial pass in review!
Eyes to the right, by the left, forward, quick march!

The parade proper then begins at this point which is usually led by a massed color guard and foreign troops[17] before the active personnel of the armed forces march on the parade route as the massed bands play music led by its Senior Director. A historical segment of servicemen in First World War uniforms usually forms part of the march past. The march past is composed first of all active formations followed by those of the military academies and NCO schools.

After this, the ground mobile column, which are composed of tanks, APCs, IFVs, the field and air defense artillery and logistics vehicles of the Armed Forces, police vehicles, and emergency vehicles follow, accompanied by the occasional flypast of the Armed Forces and Police. Foreign troops have included delegations from Turkey, the United Kingdom, Moldova, and the United States, with specific units including the Slovenian Guards Unit, the United States Marine Corps and the Honor Guard Company of the Moldovan National Army.[18]

The parade is then ended with the Honour Guard Company of the 30th Guards Brigade and then followed by the massed bands marching off the square.[citation needed]

See also



  1. ^ "Romania – Government". The World Factbook. CIA. Archived from the original on 5 May 2020. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  2. ^ Sigmirean, Ioan (2018). "Marea Unire din anul 1918 – o minune istorică" [The Great Union of 1918 - a historical miracle]. Arhiva Someșană (in Romanian). 16: 11–20. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  3. ^ "TITLUL III – Timpul de muncă şi timpul de odihnă" [TITLE III – Working time and rest periods]. Romanian Labor Code. Archived from the original on 18 June 2017. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  4. ^ "Ziua Unirii Principatelor Române" [Day of the Union of the Romanian Principalities]. Agerpres (in Romanian). 24 January 2020. Archived from the original on 24 January 2020. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  5. ^ "24 ianuarie 1859: 'Mica Unire', primul pas spre România. Unirea Principatelor Române sub domnia lui Cuza" [24 January 1859: 'Little Union', the first step towards Romania. The Union of the Romanian Principalities under the rule of Cuza]. Alba24 (in Romanian). 24 January 2021. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  6. ^ Ionel, Iloae (21 January 2021). "Ziua Unirii, marcată cu depuneri de coroane și muzică populară" [Unification Day marked with wreath-laying and folk music]. Monitorul de Botoșani (in Romanian). Archived from the original on 4 December 2023. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  7. ^ Grecu, Florin (2018). "Elitele politice din Transilvania în realizarea Marii Uniri de la 1 decembrie 1918" [The political elites of Transylvania to the achievement of the Great Union on December 1st 1918]. Revista Polis (in Romanian). 6 (2): 207–217. Archived from the original on 1 June 2022. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  8. ^ "The Resolution of the National Assembly in Alba-Iulia on December 1, 1918". Romanian Institute for Cultural Remembrance. Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  9. ^ Du Nay, Alain (2008). Români și maghiari în vârtejul istoriei [Romanians and Hungarians in the whirlwind of history] (PDF) (in Romanian). Editura Matthias Corvinus. pp. 1–139. ISBN 9781882785148. Retrieved 4 December 2023 – via hungarianhistory.com.
  10. ^ Galea, Aurel (1996). Formarea și activitatea Consiliului Dirigent al Transilvaniei, Banatului și ținuturilor românești din Ungaria: 2 decembrie 1918–10 aprilie 1920 [The Formation and Activity of the Directing Council of Transylvania, Banat and the Romanian Lands in Hungary: 2 December 1918-10 April 1920] (in Romanian). Vol. 1. Editura Tipomur. pp. 1–563. ISBN 9789739168793.
  11. ^ a b "Law regarding the Union of Transylvania, Banat, Crișana, the Satu Mare and Maramureș with the Old Kingdom of Romania". Romanian Institute for Cultural Remembrance. 11 December 1918. Archived from the original on 30 May 2023. Retrieved 4 December 2023 – via cimec.ro.
  12. ^ "Lege Nr. 10 din 31 iulie 1990 privind proclamarea zilei nationale a Romaniei" [Law No. 10 of 31 July 1990, Regarding the Proclamation of Romania's national day]. legex.ro (in Romanian). 1 August 1990. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  13. ^ "Marko Bela: Noi, maghiarii, nu putem sarbatori la 1 decembrie. Funar ce zice?" [Marko Bela: We Hungarians cannot celebrate December 1st. What does Funar say?]. stirileprotv.ro. 27 November 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  14. ^ "Cum a fost sărbătorit 1 decembrie 1990" [How December 1, 1990 was celebrated]. Evenimentul Zilei (in Romanian). Archived from the original on 3 December 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  15. ^ "Discursul lui Corneliu Coposu de la Alba Iulia, din 1 Decembrie 1990" [Corneliu Coposu's speech in Alba Iulia, 1 December 1990]. YouTube. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.
  16. ^ "Parada militară la București, de Ziua Națională a României" [Military parade in Bucharest on the National Day of Romania] (in Romanian). Ministry of National Defence (Romania). 22 November 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  17. ^ Curtifan, Tudor (2 December 2019). "Detașamente militare străine care au defilat alături de Armata României. Premieră la paradă" [Foreign military detachments parading alongside the Romanian Army. Parade premiere]. www.defenseromania.ro. Retrieved 4 December 2023.
  18. ^ "Moldovan service members take part in military parade in Bucharest". ipn.md. 1 December 2016. Archived from the original on 15 June 2020. Retrieved 1 December 2023.