Liberation Day

Bulgaria National Holiday observed in Bulgaria

Alexander Nevski cathedral in Sofia

When is Bulgarian Liberation Day?

This holiday is always celebrated on 3 March.

This holiday is Bulgaria's national day and honours the Bulgarian volunteers who, during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 with the assistance of Russian and Romanian forces, liberated Bulgaria from almost 500 years of Ottoman rule.

History of Bulgarian Liberation Day

The date of 3 March marks the date of the signing the Treaty of San Stefano in 1878.

This peace treaty ended the war and was was signed between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, which proclaimed Bulgaria as an independent state, albeit a vassal state within the Ottoman Empire.

Bulgaria had become part of the Ottoman Empire in 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. On 24 April 1877, Russia formally declared war on the Ottoman Empire.

How is Bulgarian Liberation Day celebrated?

This holiday is a welcome holiday at the start of spring and it traditionally marked by ceremonies across Bulgaria, particularly in those towns and cities which saw the fiercest fighting in the war.

Shipka pass in the Balkan Mountains is at the centre of celebrations marking the key battle that took place there. In Sofia, there will be church services, wreath laying and a military march to honour those who gave their lives in the war.

3 March became Bulgaria's Liberation Day in 1888, though it took until 1978 before it gained its National Day of Bulgaria status and was formally decreed as an official holiday in 1990.

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