Yesterday the United States celebrated the 235th anniversary of its Independence. It is a day to spend with friends and family commemorating the time when our forefathers declared we would be free of British rule. We celebrate by having BBQ’s, enjoying local parades, watching fireworks, proudly waving our red, white and blue flags and eating apple pie.
I began to wonder how European countries celebrate their independence.
I randomly selected the following six countries to research how they celebrate their independence or not.
Belgium celebrates its Independence Day on July 21. This National Day is in recognition of the day in 1830 when they declared their independence from the Dutch. During the Belgian revolution, on July 21, the 1st Belgian King was inaugurated, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg who was a German! There is a grand celebration in Brussels where everything is dressed in black, yellow and red flags. After dark, enjoy wonderful fireworks erupting over the Royal Palace.
Germany celebrates its Day of Unity on October 3 in celebration of the reunification of East and West Germany. The Berlin Wall came down on November 9, 1989 but the treaty reunifying Germany wasn’t signed until October 3, 1990. There are many festivals and celebrations held locally across the country.
Ireland doesn’t celebrate an Independence Day because the whole of Ireland is not united. Instead they honor the Easter Uprising which began on April 24, 1916 and was the day Ireland declared their independence from Britain. For a better understanding of the events surrounding the Easter Uprising, watch the movie Michael Collins.
August 1 is Swiss National Day and it commemorates Switzerland’s First Federal Charter of 1291. This day is celebrated locally across the nation with parades, fireworks and by displaying the Swiss flag. It is during this celebration that the Rhine Falls are festively lit up.
On June 25, 1991 Croatia declared it’s independence from Yugoslavia vowing to fight for this independence and keep its borders intact. At the end of the brutal war, that is what was achieved. To celebrate this day, Croatia celebrates Statehood Day each June 25 with some parades, speeches and lit candles honoring those who died fighting for Croatian freedom.
July 14 is the day France celebrates Bastille Day or La Fete Nationale (The National Celebration) commemorating the storming of the Bastille on this day in 1789. This was one of the biggest events that occurred during the French Revolution and is seen as the beginning of the end of the constitutional monarchy which then led to the First Republic. Bastille Day is celebrated across the country but Paris has the biggest celebration which includes a large Military parade down the Champs Elysees with jet flyovers, fireworks, music, and balls across the town. I’m sure if you look, you will be able to find a Bastille Day celebration somewhere near you!