Great Union Day

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Great Union Day
The National Assembly in Alba Iulia
(December 1, 1918)
Official nameRomanian: Ziua Naţională a României
Also calledRomanian: Ziua Marii Uniri
Observed byRomania
CelebrationsMilitary parades (most notably in Alba Iulia and Bucharest), fireworks
ObservancesTe Deum at the Alba Iulia Orthodox Cathedral
Date1 December
Next time1 December 2020 (2020-12-01)

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, Bessarabia, and Bukovina with the Romanian Kingdom in 1918. This holiday was declared after the Romanian Revolution and commemorates the assembly of the delegates of ethnic Romanians held in Alba Iulia, which declared the Union of Transylvania with Romania[2].

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 on Charles de Gaulle Square (then called Stalin Square and Aviators' Square).


Alba Iulia National Assembly[edit]

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

On December 1, 1918 (November 18 Old Style), the National Assembly of Romanians of Transylvania and Hungary, consisting of 1,228 elected representatives of the Romanians in Transylvania, Banat, Crişana and Maramureş, convened in Alba Iulia and decreed (by unanimous vote)

the unification of those Romanians and of all the territories inhabited by them with Romania.

The Resolution[3] 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.

The Assembly also formed from 200 of its members, plus 50 co-opted members a High National Romanian Council of Transylvania, the new permanent parliament of Transylvania.

The next day, on December 2, 1918, the High National Romanian Council of Transylvania formed a government under the name of Directory Council of Transylvania (Consiliul Dirigent al Transilvaniei), headed by Iuliu Maniu.

On December 11, 1918, King Ferdinand signed the Law[4] regarding the Union of Transylvania, Banat, Crişana, the Satmar and Maramureş with the Old Kingdom of Romania, decreeing that

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.

Declaration of the holiday[edit]

Resolution #903 of the Council of Ministers on August 18, 1949 had marked August 23 as the national holiday. Law 10/1990, declared on August 1, 1990, moved the national holiday to December 1.[5] 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 the day May 10, but also disappointed the anti-communist opposition, who wished for the national holiday to be moved to December 22.

The choice of December 1, though not explicitly declared in the law, referred to the unification of the provinces of Transylvania, Banat, Crişana, and Maramureş 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.[6]

First celebration[edit]

The first December 1 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.[7] 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 filmed and spread widely by the mass media.[8]

National Military Parade[edit]

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.[9] A parade is also held in the city of Alba Iulia and within other major cities.

With the President of Romania being the guest of honor at the Bucharest parade in his/her constitutional role as Commander in Chief, he/she receives the report by 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 Michael the Brave 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[10] 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. 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.[11]

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.

See also[edit]

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


  1. ^ CIA World Factbook, Romania – Government
  2. ^ "Public holidays enacted by labour code" Archived 18 June 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Labor code, 22 March 2017
  3. ^ Romanian Institute for Cultural Remembrance, The Resolution of the National Assembly in Alba Iulia on December 1, 1918 Archived June 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Romanian Institute for Cultural Remembrance, Law regarding the Union of Transylvania, Banat, Crişana, the Satumare and Maramureş with the Old Kingdom of Romania
  5. ^ Law 10 from August 1990
  6. ^ "Marko Bela: Noi, maghiarii, nu putem sarbatori la 1 decembrie". 27 November 2008.
  7. ^ "Cum a fost sărbătorit 1 decembrie 1990".
  8. ^ "Discursul lui Corneliu Coposu de la Alba Iulia, din 1 Decembrie 1990".
  9. ^,-de-ziua-nationala-a-romaniei
  10. ^
  11. ^

Bibliography and external links[edit]