Independence Day (Estonia)
Parade in Tallinn, 2011
|Official name||Eesti Vabariigi aastapäev|
|Also called||National Day|
|Celebrations||Fireworks, Concerts, Parades|
|Next time||24 February 2016|
Independence Day, officially known as Eesti Vabariigi aastapäev is a national holiday in Estonia marking the anniversary of the Estonian Declaration of Independence in 1918. It is commonly celebrated with fireworks, concerts, parades, and parties. It is the national day of Estonia.
The Estonian Provisional Government decided on 12 February 1919 to consider 24 February to be the date of the declaration of independence. In 1933, the Government discussed whether the national day should be moved to another date at a better time of the year, such as 15 June, to mark the date when the Estonian Constituent Assembly adopted the Constitution in 1920. Hugo Kuusner requested on 21 February 1937 that the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia should be 23 February, not 24 February. Gottlieb Ney, the director of the National Archives of Estonia said that "… one must reach the conclusion that the 24 February 1918 should be considered the date when the republic began; it is the day when the declaration of independence reached the capital city and actually went to the supreme powers of elected bodies (at that time the Estonian Salvation Committee and the provisional government)."
28 November 1917
On 28 November 1917 the Estonian Provincial Assembly met in Toompea Castle and proclaimed itself "Estonia's sole bearer of a higher power." The decision not to use the word "state" was adopted by 48 members of the Provincial Assembly present, with 9 abstentions (who were mostly socialist revolutionaries, along with a couple of Mensheviks). The Estonian Provincial Assembly called for Estonian soldiers to immediately and quickly come from all over Estonia. Some sources have referred this date to as "The Real Estonian Independence Day".
23 February 1918
24 February 1918
On 24 February 1918 it was published in Tallinn.
23 June 1919
2 February 1920
8 May 1990
On 8 May 1990 the Supreme Council of Estonia, during the last day of its existence, declared the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic invalid and re-established the Republic of Estonia. The government adopted a law on "the symbolism of Estonia" according to which Estonia's national colors are blue, black and white. Paragraphs 1,2,4,5 and 6 of the Constitution of Estonia stated that "Estonia – separate and independent state, the rule of power which is its people." Attempts to preserve the Soviet Union on the basis of a confederal agreement proposed by Moscow were rejected by the Estonian leadership.
20 August 1991
On 20 August 1991 the Russian 76th Guards Air Assault Division arrived in Tallinn. Volunteers organized protection of Toompea and the television broadcast tower. On The Popular Front of Estonia organized a rally in Freedom Square which called for the independence of Estonia. On the same day, late in the evening at 23:02, the Supreme Council of Estonia, along with the leadership of the Estonian Committee agreed an "On the independence of the Estonian state and the establishment of the Constitutional Assembly", thus proclaiming the restoration of Estonian independence.
Since the restoration of Estonian independence in 1991, a new tradition of parades by the Estonian Defence Forces has been established. The President of Estonia organises a festive Independence Day reception at which state decorations are awarded to recipients whose names are published in advance. Both the parade and the reception is held in different years in different cities; in 2014 they were held in Pärnu, and in 2015 in Narva. The parade, the reception and a concert that precedes the reception are broadcast live on television. This coverage includes a speech by the President. The reception line, where the President and his wife shake hands with attendees is ironically called the "Penguin Parade". As the President's reception is always organized on 24 February, similar local receptions are often held earlier on 23 February. Schools and other institutions sometimes hold events even earlier. In recent years, it is customary that the Prime Minister must call in Vanemuine at the Tartu reception.