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Independence Day

Bulgaria National Holiday observed in Bulgaria

The Battle of Shipka Pass in August 1877, during the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878).
The Battle of Shipka Pass by Alexey Popov

When is Bulgarian Independence Day?

This holiday is always celebrated on 22 September. Known locally as 'Ден на независимостта', it marks Bulgaria's independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1908.

History of Bulgarian Independence Day

Bulgaria had been part of the Ottoman Empire since 1396. In the late nineteenth century, a growing tide of nationalism had been spreading across Europe, which had been threatening the break up of the western parts of the Ottoman Empire.

In April 1876, uprisings in other parts of the Ottoman Empire spread to Bulgaria. The suppression of the revolts by the Ottomans was horrific and when the atrocities were made public to the West and Russia, international condemnation was widespread. In 1877, Russia formally declared war on the Ottoman Empire. The conflict eventually resulted in the creation of a Bulgarian principality within the Ottoman Empire, albeit with reduced land.

Following a war with Serbia, the principality extended its area in the region and on 22 September 1908, Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria declared Bulgaria’s independence from the Ottoman Empire.

In 1908, Bulgaria was still using the Julian calendar, so the declaration of independence was made on 5 October using that calendar.

In 1944, the Bulgarian monarchy was overthrown and Bulgaria became a republic with close links to the Soviet Bloc. The communist party lost control when the Soviet Union collapsed with free elections taking place in 1990. It wasn't until 1998, when the Bulgarian Independence Day was reinstated by the Bulgarian Parliament.


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