The citizens of Bulgaria celebrate Independence Day on September 22. This public holiday commemorates the independence of Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire in 1908.
The Ottoman Turks first invaded the territory of Bulgaria in 1354. By 1396, the entire country had been occupied by the Ottomans. In 1878, Bulgaria was granted autonomy as the Principality of Bulgaria. Thirty years later, Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria proclaimed the country’s independence in the old capital of Tarnovo.
Bulgarians started to celebrate Independence Day right after the independence was proclaimed. However, in 1944 Bulgaria was invaded by the Soviet Union, and the celebration was abolished. The parliament of Bulgaria reinstated Bulgarian Independence Day in 1998, and the holiday has been observed every year ever since.
Bulgaria’s Independence Day is a national holiday widely celebrated across the country. It is marked with official speeches, parades, open-air performances, special church services, wreath-laying ceremonies at monuments and memorials, and other festive events and activities. The largest celebrations are held in Sofia (the national capital) and Veliko Tarnovo (the city where the country’s independence was proclaimed).
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.