Independence Day (Estonia)

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Independence Day
Vabariigi aastapäeva paraad.jpeg
Parade in Tallinn, 2011
Official name Eesti Vabariigi aastapäev
Also called National Day
Observed by Estonians
Significance National
Celebrations Fireworks, Concerts, Parades
Date 24 February
Next time 24 February 2018 (2018-02-24)
Frequency annual
Independence Day torchlight march in Tallinn

Independence Day (Estonian: 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, torchlight marches, 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[edit]

On 28 November [O.S. 15 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[edit]

On 23 February 1918 the Manifest of All Peoples was published in Pärnu which declared an independent and democratic Republic of Estonia.

24 February 1918[edit]

On 24 February 1918 it was published in Tallinn.

Parade, 1919

23 June 1919[edit]

On 23 June 1919 in the Estonian War of Independence, troops during the Battle of Võnnu defeated a German division. This event is celebrated in Estonia as the Day of Victory.

2 February 1920[edit]

On 2 February 1920, Estonia and Soviet Russia signed the Tartu Peace Treaty which made Estonia a de jure independent state.

16 November 1988[edit]

On 16 November 1988, the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR adopted the Estonian Sovereignty Declaration, which asserted Estonia's sovereignty and the supremacy of the Estonian laws over the laws of the Soviet Union.

30 March 1990[edit]

On 30 March 1990, the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR adopted the resolution "On The State Status of Estonia", whereby it declared Soviet rule in occupied Estonia to have been illegal since the start and declared a period of transition to restore the Republic of Estonia.

8 May 1990[edit]

On 8 May 1990, the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR, 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[edit]

On 20 August 1991, during the attempted coup in Moscow by the hardline Communist Party members, 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.



Flags being set up, 2013

Since the restoration of Estonian independence in 1991, a new tradition of parades by the Estonia Defence Forces has been established, with the first parade held in Tallinn in 1993 marking the diamond jubilee year since the events of 1918.

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, with that year's parade featuring contingents from fellow NATO member nations. 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.

Since 2014, the Independence Day celebrations feature a torchlight march in the streets of Tallinn. This tradition was started by the nationalist youth movement Blue Awakening and is meant to honor those who have fallen for the nation of Estonia and to signify that Estonian youth have not abandoned the nationalist principles.[4] This event is inspired by a similar action in Poland.


External links[edit]