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Centre d'Information sur les Institutions Européennes

Centre d'Information sur les Institutions Européennes (CIIE)

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States that are members of the European Uniona and the Council of Europe


States that are members of the Council of Europe


Occasion: This national holiday commemorates the 28th of November, 1992, when Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire (which had occupied it since the 15th century). On this day, the Albanian flag was raised for the first time.

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Occasion: Andorra celebrates its national day on the 8th of September. This is the day of “Notre Dame de Meritxell”, the Holy Patron and guardian of Andorra. Every year this holiday is celebrated with a mass at the Church of Notre Dame de Meritxell, on the left bank of the Valira River, where its current sanctuary is located. The notables and the faithful participate in the ceremony. Many people make the pilgrimage on foot from the Principality’s seven parishes.

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Occasion: On the 21st of September, Armenia celebrates its independence. It was on September 21st, 1991 when the Republic of Armenia was re-proclaimed. After 70 years of Soviet control, Armenia finally gained its autonomy following a national referendum where 99% of the population voted in favor of independence from the USSR. The Armenian Parliament adopted an immediate declaration of independence.

To celebrate this holiday, festivals and concerts are organized in Armenia and by Armenian communities around the world.

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Occasion: The last occupying troops left Austrian territory following the signing of the Austrian State Treaty in May 1955. A few months later, on October 26, 1955, the Austrian National Council adopted the Federal Constitutional Law by which the country declared its permanent neutrality, a sine qua non condition for the Soviets to agree to sign the State Treaty. By this law, Austria certifies that it “will not join any military alliance and will not tolerate the establishment of military bases of foreign states on its territory”. In memory of the reestablishment of the independent, neutral, and democratic Austria, October 26th has been declared the country’s national holiday.

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Occasion: Azerbaijan celebrates its national day on May 28. This holiday commemorates May 28, 1918, when the first independent democratic republic of Azerbaijan was founded. The country regained its autonomy as an independent state with its language, army, and parliament.

This first Muslim republic in the world lasted only two years since the country was occupied by the Red Army and attached to the USSR in 1920.

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Occasion: July 21 is the Belgian national holiday. This day celebrates Léopold Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha’s oath of July 21, 1831, to remain faithful to the Constitution. After the Napoleonic wars, present-day Belgium was part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (a state created in 1815 which brought together the present-day territories of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg). After the Belgian revolution of 1830, the Dutch army was defeated, thus, Belgium proclaimed its independence. The following year, Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha became the first King of the Belgians under the name of Leopold I.

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Occasion: On March 1st, Bosnia and Herzegovina celebrates its national day in commemoration of March 1st, 1992. The country gained its independence from the Socialist Federalist Republic of Yugoslavia on this day. The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina was established two years later, in 1994.

Every year, March 1st is celebrated with parades, concerts, and fireworks.

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Occasion: Bulgaria’s national holiday commemorates the signing of the Treaty of San Stefano on March 3rd, 1878, which proclaimed the sovereign state of Bulgaria after the Russo-Turkish war. March 3rd is considered to be Bulgaria’s “Liberation Day”. It is viewed as the first important step towards the recognition and establishment of Bulgarian sovereignty, lost in 1396 under the Ottoman conquest in Europe.

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Occasion: Each year, on the 25th of June, Croatia celebrates its “State Day”. This celebration commemorates the independence of Croatia from Yugoslavia.

On the 19th of May, 1991, a referendum was organized where 94% of Croats voted in favor of independence. Thus, on the 25th of June, 1991, the Croatian Parliament officially declared the state’s independence by a constitutional decision.

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Occasion: October 1, 1960. After centuries of obedience, Cyprus became independent on the 11th of February, 1959, following the signing of the Zurich Agreements. British rule ended on the 15th of August, 1960, and the Republic was proclaimed on the 16th. The Cypriot government chose the 1st of October to celebrate the start of the island’s independence.

However, in 1974, an intervention by the Turkish army led to the division of the island into two territories. Ever since the government has exercised its authority only over the two-thirds of the country in the south, and more than 30% of its territory is occupied by the Turkish military.

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Occasion:  On October 28, 1918, the Czechs and Slovaks united to create Czechoslovakia and declared their independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Later, during the Second World War, the country was under German occupation. In 1948, a communist putsch drug the country into isolation for 40 years before returning to democracy in 1989, through the “velvet revolution”.

On January 1, 1993, the Czech Republic separated from Slovakia to create two independent states.

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Occasion: In the middle of European-Scandinavian rivalries of the 19th century, Denmark first played a significant role in Northern Europe before suffering numerous attacks pushing it to proclaim its neutrality. In 1849, in the turbulent context of the European revolutions of 1848, King Frederick VII accepted the principle of  constitutional monarchy. Frederick’s Constitution (the first Danish liberal Constitution) was signed on June 5, now celebrated as the constitution day (Grundlovsdag).

Unlike in other countries, this day, above all festive, is not marked by any ceremony of a military nature but offers political meetings, which once reminded popular festivals.

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Occasion: Like its neighbors Latvia and Lithuania, Estonia celebrates its independence obtained in 1918 on its national day. In 1940, the military forces of the Soviet Union (the Red Army) invaded the country. However, shortly after they were driven out by the Nazi troops, who settled in Estonia from 1941 to 1944. Then, the country was again resigned to the Soviets, which prompted many Estonians to exile. Estonia regained its independence in 1991, with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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Occasion: On December 6th, 1917, Finland adopted its declaration of independence after eight centuries of various tutelage. First, between the 12th and 19th centuries, Finland was part of the Kingdom of Sweden, later, in 1809, it became an autonomous Grand Duchy of Imperial Russia.

In July 1919, with the adoption of a new Constitution, Finland became a Republic with a President at its head. However, it was not until 1920 that Russia recognized Finland’s independence. Moreover, in 1939, Russia tried to reconquer Finland during the “Winter War” and the “Continuation War” that lasted from 1941 to 1944. Finland certainly succeeded to preserve its independence and sovereignty, however, the country faced consequent territorial losses.

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Occasion: The 14th of July has been celebrated as the French National day since 1880.

This date commemorates the day of the storming of the Bastille on the 14th of July of 1789, which marks the start of the French Revolution. It was on the 21st of May, 1880, that deputy Benjamin Raspail presented the law proclaiming the 14th of July as an annual national holiday. Every year, on this day, French military troops parade on the Champs-Élysées.

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Occasion: On May 26 Georgia celebrates its independence. During the Russian Civil War, the Georgian National Council declared the country’s independence, proclaiming the “Act of Independence” in Tiflis on May 26, 1918.

Georgia was annexed to Russia again in 1921. Later, it regained its independence in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union and elected its first president on May 26, 1991.

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Occasion: The 3rd of October is German Unity Day (Tag der Deutschen Einheit). It symbolizes the 1900’s reunification of two Germanies that had coexisted since 1945. The milestone of the unification was the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Since then, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the Democratic Republic of Germany (East Germany) have formed a single state based on the Treaty signed on the 3rd of October, 1990. Each year the Unity Day is celebrated in different cities: Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen, Munich. In Berlin, in particular, the annual celebrations take place in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

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Occasion: On March 25th, Greece celebrates its independence from the Ottoman Empire.

After conquering Constantinople in 1453, the Turks gained control over Greece. The cohabitation of the two nations was decent, but on March 25, 1821, the Greeks rejected Turkish domination. In 1822, Greece became independent.

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Occasion: (3 official dates)

  • On March 15, the Nemzeti ünnep (“national holiday”) commemorates the Hungarian Revolution of 1848.
  • On August 20, the Szent István ünnepe (“St. Stephen’s Day”, also known as Foundation Day and Constitution Day) celebrates the founding of the Hungarian state in 1000.
  • On October 23, the Forradalom ünnepe is organized in honor of the uprising of Budapest against the Soviet Union in 1956.

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Occasion:  June 17 is Iceland’s national holiday. It is called “National Day” or “þjóðhátíðardagurinn” in Icelandic.

On June 17, 1944, the day of birth of Icelandic nationalist Jón Sigurðsson (the leader of the Icelandic independence movement in the 19th century), the Icelandic Parliament proclaimed the Republic in Thingvöllur following a referendum where 97.3% of Icelanders voted for secession from Denmark.

The National Day is celebrated each year with parades, public speeches, and music.

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Occasion: Every year, on March 17, the Irish celebrate Saint Patrick’ day in honor of the patron saint of the Irish. According to legend, born around 385, St. Patrick settled in Ireland around 430, where he converted to religious life. As a bishop, he sought to spread Catholicism in his country. In his sermons, he used the shamrock to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Today, the shamrock is frequently attributed to the celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day, moreover, it has become the country’s national emblem. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated each year on March 17, the day of the death of the island’s patron saint. During this holiday (also celebrated in the United States), it is customary to wear green clothes.

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Occasion: On June 2, Italy celebrates its National day in commemoration of June 2, 1946, when Italy proclaimed the Republic and established republican institutions. In the aftermath of World War II, a referendum was organized in Italy, as a result, the monarchy was abolished and the royal family was exiled.

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Occasion: Until the 20th century, Latvia was dominated successively by the Germans, Poles, Swedes, and Russians. Following the German defeat in World War I, the country was finally freed. On November 18, 1918, Latvia proclaimed its independence, but it was only temporary because the Soviets occupied it from 1940. Latvia’s independence was finally restored on August 21, 1991.

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Occasion: August 15 is Liechtenstein’s national holiday. This day is the date of birth of Franz Josef II, who was the beloved ruler of Liechtenstein until he died in 1989. August 15 is celebrated annually with fireworks and speeches.

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Occasion: February 16 is Lithuania’s national holiday, in commemoration of the founding of the state in 1918.

Lithuania lost its autonomy with the Union of Lublin in 1569 and got incorporated into the Polish kingdom. At the end of the 18th century, during the dismemberment of Poland, Lithuania was annexed by the Tsars but it managed to resist Russian attacks (anti-Russian uprisings of 1830-1831 and 1863-1864). Although occupied by the Germans, in 1915, the Council of Lithuania proclaimed the re-establishment of independent Lithuania and established a republic on February 16, 1918.

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Occasion: June 23 marks the birthday of the monarch of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Since the 19th century, Luxembourg has celebrated the monarch’s birthday as his national holiday. Since 1961, June 23 has been chosen, instead of Grand Duchess Charlotte’s actual birthday (January 23), as the weather is more appropriate for outdoor celebrations. During this day, two important events mark the celebrations: the Te Deum in the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg and the taking of arms, completed by a social element organized in the avenue de la Liberté in Luxembourg.

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Occasion: Malta’s National Day commemorates September 21, 1964, when this small Mediterranean country became independent. From 1530 to 1798, Malta was ruled by the famous Order of the Knights of Malta. However, following the Napoleonic wars, the country, where France had some influence, came under the rule of London (in 1802). Initially, Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, was the head of state, later, in 1974, Malta adopted republican rule.

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Occasion: Moldova celebrates its independence every year on August 27. It was annexed to the Soviet Union in 1940 after the signing of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact of 1939.

After long years of annexation and occupation, Moldova declared its independence from Russia on August 27, 1991, thus marking the birth of the Republic of Moldova. To celebrate this event, many concerts and festivities are organized in the country.

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Occasion: Every year Monaco celebrates its national day on November 19. Since 1857, Monegasques have celebrated Sovereign’s Day. It is celebrated on November 19, on Pisa’s Saint Rainier Day, since 1951, in honor of Ranier III, the former sovereign of Monaco. Prince Albert II, current sovereign, has chosen to keep the national holiday on November 19, instead of changing it to November 15, St. Albert’s Day.

November 19 is a day of ceremonies and celebrations when Monegasques celebrate their national identity.

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Occasion: July 13 commemorates the day when Montenegro was recognized as an independent state by the Congress of Berlin in 1878. Montenegro became independent after being under the rule of the Ottoman Empire for a long time.

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Occasion: The Netherlands used to celebrate its national day on April 30, supposedly, on the birthday of the monarch of the country, Beatrix Ire, who had reigned since 1980. But surprisingly, this date did not correspond to reality. The Queen of the Netherlands, Beatrix 1st, was born on January 31, 1938. However, in her country, on that date, in the middle of winter, it is often very cold, which is not suitable for celebrations – at least the outdoor ones. Therefore, the Queen’s birthday was celebrated on April 30, as in the previous reign. This day is indeed the birthday of his mother, Queen Juliana, who died in 2004. Since 2014, King Willem-Alexander, enthroned on April 30, 2013, in honor of the two previous Queens, has decided to change the date of the national holiday to April 27, his birthday.

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Occasion: August 2 is the national holiday of the Republic of North Macedonia (MKD). This holiday commemorates August 2, 1903, known as the “Ilinden Uprising Day” when the Macedonians revolted against Ottoman rule and claimed their independence.

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Occasion: On May 17, Norway celebrates its national day. This day commemorates the signing of Norway’s first Constitution in 1814. On this day, Norway was established as a sovereign state and gained independence from the Danish autocracy after being under its rule for four centuries. May 17 is celebrated each year with parades of children, marching bands, and concerts. This day is also called the children’s day.

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Occasion: The Polish national holiday is celebrated on May 3 in memory of the first European constitution, which was adopted on May 3, 1791. This date proclaims the drafting of the Polish constitution by the bourgeois and the nobles of the 4-year Diet under the government of the last King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Stanislaus II. The first constitution in Europe dealt with many fundamental points in order to reform the institutions and organize the life of the Polish people: it recognized the rights of the peasants, it maintained the hereditary monarchy and its executive power, it specified the political rights of the representatives, it limited the army and finally it instituted territorial management. From then on, May 3 became an annual public holiday.

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Occasion: Called Camões Day, June 10 marks the anniversary of the death of poet Luis Vaz de Camões (1525-1580), considered the greatest author of Portuguese literature. Famous for his poems of pastoral and medieval tradition, Luis Vaz de Camões is best known for his work “Os Lusiadas”, an epic poem written in 1556, glorifying the birth and fate of the nation and the Portuguese Empire – like the “Iliad or The Odyssey”.

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Occasion: Romania’s National Day on December 1st, it commemorates the Union of Transylvania.

The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1918 created favorable conditions for the countries it previously controlled. From November 15 to 28, 1918, the National Assembly of Bucovina voted for its unification with Romania.

From November 18 to December 1, 1918, the National Assembly of Alba Iulia in Transylvania voted in front of more than 100,000 Romanians for the union of Transylvania and Banat with Romania.

This annexation, acquired at the end of the First World War, was recognized by Austria (Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, in 1919) and by Hungary (Treaty of Trianon, in 1920). Thus Transylvania joined the former Kingdom of Romania.

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Occasion: The national holiday of San Marino is on the 3rd of September. Each year the country celebrates the day of the founding of the Republic of San Marino in 301. The country was founded by San Marino, who according to legend was a Christian stonemason who took refuge there.

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Occasion: On February 15, Serbia celebrates “Statehood Day” in memory of February 15, 1804, the day of the fight for final liberation from Turkish occupation, which lasted for five centuries.

On the same day in 1835, Prince Milos Obrenovic proclaimed the first Serbian Constitution, known as Candlemas Day. This date marks the beginning of the creation of the modern Serbian state, it is celebrated as a national holiday with masses and public speeches.

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Occasion: Although August 29 is better known, (the anniversary of the national uprising to fight against the Nazi’s occupation), Slovakia’s national holiday, is January 1. The country celebrates its independence on this date.

Slovakia’s fate has often been associated with that of the Czech Republic. For several decades, the two countries formed a single state called Czechoslovakia. It belonged to the communist bloc for a long time, however, in 1989, the country reestablished democracy through the “velvet revolution”.

In September 1992, the National Council of the Slovak Republic approved its Constitution and on January 1, 1993, a new state was born.

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Occasion: On June 25, the independence of Slovenia is celebrated which was obtained in 1991.

The first Slovenes, Slavic people, settled in present-day Slovenia, on the borders of Italy, Austria, and Hungary, during the 6th century. From the 8th century, incorporated into the Empire of Charlemagne, Slovenia was integrated into different groups, the last was the former Yugoslavia from which it became independent in 1991. It was recognized by Germany in December 1991 and by the international community in January of the following year.

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Occasion: Each year Spain celebrates its national holiday on October 12 to commemorate Hispanic Day. This holiday celebrates the Spanish-speaking peoples in more than twenty countries and territories (mainly in Central and South America). October 12 is also a reminder of the discovery of the New World (of America) by Christopher Columbus in 1492.

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Occasion: Since 1983, the national holiday has been celebrated on June 6. This date remarks two events: June 6, 1523, the anniversary of the proclamation of Gustav Vasa king of Sweden (which ended Danish rule in Sweden), and June 6, 1809, the adoption of the new constitution. The new constitution is the symbol of a reaffirmation of Swedish values of freedoms and rights, such as the freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and of speech.

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Occasion: Swiss National Day is celebrated on August 1. It recalls the oath taken on August 1, 1291, in the Grütli meadow, by the cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwald. This oath endowed to protect the country from external threats and has become the founding act of the Swiss Confederation. The holiday is celebrated with fireworks, parades, speeches, and feasts.

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Occasion: October 29, Turkish national holiday, is “Republic Day”. On this day, Turkey celebrates October 29, 1923, the day of the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey.

The Ottoman Empire was defeated and overthrown by the revolutionary movement led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. This holiday is celebrated with events that honor him, founder of the Turkish Republic and first “Prime Minister”.

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Occasion: August 24 is Ukraine’s national holiday.  This holiday commemorates August 24, 1991, when the Ukrainian Parliament proclaimed the independence of the country which was under the control of the USSR. In December of the same year, more than 90% of Ukrainians confirmed this decision by a referendum.

Ukraine’s Independence Day is celebrated with military parades and other festivities.

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Occasion: Unlike other countries which generally celebrate their independence, the UK (United Kingdom) celebrates the birth of its monarch as its national day. The birthday of Queen Elizabeth II (who became Queen in 1952) is usually celebrated on the 2nd Saturday in June, although she was born on April 21, 1926. It has long been customary to celebrate the monarch’s birthday in the summer.

Since 1805, the official celebration of the sovereign has been marked by a military parade “Tooping the color”.

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