3 of March- Liberation Day of Bulgaria

Today, on the third of March, the Bulgarians celebrate the Liberation Day. This is one of the biggest and most celebrated National Holidays in Bulgaria. 

Why does the Bulgarian celebrate Liberation Day? A brief history

Bulgaria established as a sovereign nation already in the 7th century A.D. with a own government, education, art, economy, language and culture. The First Bulgarian Empire started in 632 A.D and lasted until 1018 A.D. The Second Bulgarian Empire took place between  1185-1396 and was covering the geographical region of almost the whole Balkan. The Second Bulgarian Empire ended at the time 14th century when the Ottoman Empire conquered Bulgaria. The occupation lasted util the end of the Russo-Turkish War in 1877-1878.

During the Ottoman occupation Bulgarians was under the Ottoman authorities and had to follow the Millet system. The Christians had to pay higher taxes and also Devşirme – blood tax, which meant that Bulgarian parents had go give away their sons between age 8-18 to serve as military in the Ottoman Empire. Some Bulgarians converted to Islam in order to seek better life.

Around the 19th century many nation was fighting for independence, and so did the Bulgarians. An uprising against the Ottoman Empire had started, and Vasil Levski was one of the big revolutionary leaders that fought for the liberation of Bulgaria (see earlier article about Levski). The revolution led to the Russo-Turkish War in 1877-1878. The war came to an end in 1878 when the treaty of of San Stefano took place on the 3 of March. The treaty of San Stefano came to found a constitutional monarchy of Bulgaria. Now Bulgaria came to function as independent but was still nominally a vassal of the Ottoman Empire, and it wasn’t until 1908 the declaration was signed that Bulgaria was a free nation from the Ottoman rule. The 3 of March marks the first and most vital step in Bulgaria´s way to freedom after 500 years of occupation.

The Battle of Shipka- A symbol for 3 of March

When you researching the 3 of March, many pictures, except from Bulgarian flags, that will show up is the battle of Shipka. This battle took place at the peak of Shipka in Stara Planina (the Balkan Mountains) in August 1877, between 5000 Bulgarians and 2500 Russians against a big army of Ottomans with 40 000 soldiers. No one taught that the Bulgarians would win this battle but they did and ever since, it has been remembered and their are many story´s and legends  about this battle. There is a big monument, 1 km away from where the real battle took place, on the highest peek that marks the historical battle. On the monument they placed a big lion. First it pointed to the North, but the Romanians was questioning this and asked if the Bulgarians wanted to fight them. So they turned the lion to the West instead and the Serbs and Macedonians asked the same. And so did the Greeks and Turks when it turned to the South. Now the lion on the monument is turned to the East and the Black Sea. Shipka is a place that many Bulgarians visit and pay tribute to their ancestors. At National days like the 3 of March many people go there to give speeches.

Photo: http://cacti.acs.bg/collegelife/?tag=liberation-day

The Celebration

It wasn’t until 1978 that the 3 of March actually turned into a National Holiday. And on this day you will see the Bulgarian flags everywhere. There are Government-sponsored events, speeches are being held during the whole day but also street parades and cultural events. Public companies are closed on this day, and many private companies chose to take the day off as well. This is a big day of celebration for all Bulgarians.

Photo: http://www.novinite.com/articles/113789/Bulgaria+Celebrates+Day+of+National+Liberation


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7 thoughts on “3 of March- Liberation Day of Bulgaria

    1. Well its all very complex, I don´t have any answers but rather speculations about this.

      First after Bulgaria turned independent the country had monarchy. And during monarchy the days of celebration are often connected to the royals (take it from a Swed that lives in a monarchy country :P). Then the socialist party took the power and lots of stuff was happening in Bulgaria. Maybe they decided to make 3/3 to unite the Bulgarians for a purpose, and used the day as a instrument? Or maybe the society was more stable and they could focus on getting important days in the calendar ?

      To be honest I really don´t know. I could not find any information about why it happened so late 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: When in Bulgaria
  2. Reblogged this on When in Bulgaria and commented:

    Today on the 3rd of March is the Liberation Day of Bulgaria and it is one of the most important national days of the country. Find out more why this day has such a deep meaning that values through celebration, parades and speeches here on wheninbulgaria.wordpress.com!


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