On the 16th of February Lithuania celebrates Lithuanian Independence day. The TransferGo Blog has posted about the national days of several countries since our launch, but this is the first country we have written about that has achieved its independence twice.
Lithuania, on the Baltic coast, has a very long history. Although the area has been inhabited since the 10th millennium BC, Lithuania was not formed until medieval times. The first written mention of Lithuania dates from around the 11th century. The Kingdom of Lithuania was created in 1253 under the rule of the country’s first and only king, Minduagas.
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania (which included parts of modern day Poland and Russia, along with Belarus, Ukraine and modern Lithuania) was the largest country in Europe. In 1569 Lithuania and Poland formed the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth which existed for more than 200 years.
Lithuania’s first Act of Independence took place on the 16th of February 1918. The country had been annexed by the Russian empire in the late 1700s, and had remained under Russian rule until the end of World War I. The Act of February 16 created what is now the Republic of Lithuania.
Lithuania remained an independent republic until the 1940s. During World War II, the country was occupied by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany. As the war neared its end, the German forces retreated and the Soviet Union reoccupied the country.
For almost half a century Lithuania remained part of the Soviet Union. The country declared itself independent of the Soviet Union on 11th March 1990. Their declaration of independence was the first by a state from the Soviet Union and predated the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union by a year.
All major cities organise parades and other festivities, along with the prerequisite public speeches. The celebrations create a bit of a conflict with some citizens. This is a holdover from the Soviet Union when nationalism was seen as dangerous.
Vilnius, the nation’s capital, is home to some of the largest celebrations. Public shows are held at the National Opera and Ballet Theatre. Cathedral Square organises free concerts. Museums, theatres and other public facilities have special events and displays. Many local restaurants and entertainment venues participate in the celebration with special events and menus.