National Unity and Armed Forces Day

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National Unity and Armed Forces Day
Giornata dell'Unità Nazionale e delle Forze Armate - 4-11-2006.jpg
Former President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano paying homage to the Milite Ignoto (4th November 2006)
Official nameItalian: Giornata dell'Unità Nazionale e delle Forze Armate
Observed by Italy
Date4 November
Next time4 November 2020 (2020-11-04)
First time4 November 1919
Related toAnniversary of the Unification of Italy, Anniversary of the Liberation, Festa della Repubblica and Tricolour Day

National Unity and Armed Forces Day is an Italian national day since 1919 which commemorates the victory in World War I, a war event considered the completion of the process of unification of Italy. It's celebrated every 4 November, which is the anniversary of the armistice of Villa Giusti becoming effective in 1918 declaring Austria-Hungary's surrender.[1]


4 November commemoration in Iglesias (1932)

Established in 1919, November 4th is the only Italian national holiday which has gone through decades of Italian history: from the liberal period to the fascism and the republican Italy.[2] In 1921, during the National Unity and Armed Forces Day, the Italian Unknown Soldier (Milite Ignoto) was solemnly buried at the Altare della Patria in Rome.[3]

In 1922, shortly after the march on Rome, the holiday changed its name to Anniversario della Vittoria (Victory Anniversary) to emphasize Italian military power, while after the end of World War II, in 1949, the original meaning was restored, becoming the celebration of Italian armed forces and the achievement of the Italian Unity.[2][4]

In fact, after the WWI victory, Italy completed the national unification begun with the Risorgimento, conquering Trento and Trieste. For that, WWI has been called the fourth Italian war of independence, although nowadays this definition has lost relevance.

November 4 was a holiday until 1976.[1] From 1977, during austerity, it became a moveable feast according to the calendar reform of national holidays introduced by law n. 54 of 5 March 1977,  and celebrations occurred every first Sunday of November.[1]

During the 1980s and 1990s, its importance declined but in the 2000s, thanks to the impulse given by former president of the republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who has been a main protagonist of a general valorization of Italian national symbols, the holiday gained more widespread celebrations.[5]


The Vittoriano, also known as the "Altare della Patria".

On November 4 and the days shortly before, highest charges of the Republic pay homage to the Italian Unknown Soldier (Milite Ignoto),[1] buried in the Altare della Patria in Rome, visit the Redipuglia War Memorial, where there are the bodies of 100,000 Italian soldiers who died in the First World War, as well as Vittorio Veneto, where there occurred the last and decisive battle between the Royal Italian Army and the Austro-Hungarian Army.[6]

The Italian President and Minister of Defence send to the Italian Armed Forces a greeting and gratitude message  in the name of the whole country.[1] November 4 is celebrated also in other institutional offices like Regions, Provinces and Comuni.

During the national holiday, there is the change of guards, at the Quirinal Palace, with Corazzieri and the fanfare of 4th Carabinieri Cavalry Regiment in high uniform. This rite occurs only in other two occasions, during celebrations of Tricolour Day (January 7) and Republic Day (June 2).

The Italian Army Forces usually open the barracks to the public[7] and allow visits to the naval military units. Arms showings and exhibitions about WWI are often held inside barracks.[7] There are often sport demonstrations and exercise carried by soldiers.[7]

In squares of the main Italian cities, concerts are held by military bands, as well as other celebrations in front of the Monument to the fallen situated in each Commune.[8]


During the protests of 1968, Armed forces Day became object of protest and dissent by different political groups.

Especially in the second half of the 1960s and the first of the 1970s, on November 4, the radical movement, far-left groups and "dissident catholics" began protests to ask the recognition of the conscientious objection right and attack the overall military institution.[9]

Sometimes protests were carried on by the distribution of leaflets and posting of posters against armed forces. Protesters were often pursued for offences to the Army's honour and prestige and for instigation of soldiers to insubordination.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Perché il 4 novembre è festa". Il Post (in Italian). 2014-11-04.
  2. ^ a b Casprini, Sergio (2012-11-01). "4 Novembre 1918. Una data da ricordare". (in Italian).
  3. ^ MILITE IGNOTO entry (in Italian) in the Enciclopedia italiana
  4. ^ "4 Novembre - Festa dell'Unità Nazionale e Giornata delle Forze Armate". Prefettura di Parma (in Italian). 2015-02-10.
  5. ^ Cialini, Mattia (2015-11-03). "Il significato della festa del 4 novembre". ArezzoNotizie (in Italian).
  6. ^ "Il perché della festività nazionale". Ministero della Difesa (in Italian). 2012-10-26.
  7. ^ a b c "4 novembre, dieci giorni di celebrazioni". Varese News (in Italian). 2008-10-29.
  8. ^ "Al Monumento ai Caduti la Festa dell'Unità nazionale e la Giornata delle forze armate". 2015-11-04. Archived from the original on 2016-01-29.
  9. ^ a b "Oggi si celebra..." (in Italian). 2015-11-04.

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