The National Day of Romania is celebrated each year on December 1st. It is a major holiday that marks a significant historical event: the unification of Transylvania with the Romanian Kingdom in 1918. On this day, Romanians everywhere celebrate on the streets, at the military parades in Alba-Iulia or Bucharest, or home with their loved ones.
This article will show you why this date was chosen, which were the previous National Days of the country, and how you can be part of the celebration.
What happened on the 1st of December?
Romania is the result of successive unification of territories starting with the XIXth century and culminating with the Great Union from December 1st, 1918 at Alba Iulia. On this day, the Romanian delegation adopted the Alba Iulia Proclamation of unifying Transylvania, Crisana, Banat, and Maramures regions with the Kingdom of Romania. A few days later, the Saxon communities, an important population of these regions, declared their support for the union. A new and greater country was thus being born at the end of WWI.
Later, King Ferdinand ratified the unification, and he, together with Queen Marie, was crowned at Alba Iulia on October 15, 1922, in the newly built Orthodox Cathedral of the Coronation.
The regions that form today our country were for centuries under the domination or the occupation of foreign powers: the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, the Hungarian, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
WWI brought the end of the empires and the birth of many independent countries.
The end of the war represented a strong blow for the Hungarian Kingdom, which lost, after WWI, around 2 thirds of their territories, including Transylvania.
The new great Kingdom of Romania had to face a new challenge: integrating and respecting the values of all ethnic groups who came once with the Great Union, the largest communities being the Saxons and the Hungarians.
How 1st of December was chosen as Romania’s National Day?
After the Anticommunist Revolution, there were debates in the Romanian Parliament to decide which is the most suitable date for the National Day of this new democratic country. Some MPs argued that December 22nd would be more appropriate, this being the time when in 1989, all Romanian citizens, no matter the ethnic groups or religion, started the anti-communist revolution in Bucharest.
In the end, the party led by Ion Iliescu, former president of Romania, chose the 1st of December to be the National Day of Romania. The decision was voted in the Parliament in July 1990.
There are many voices in Romania claiming that the Great Union Day is separating the Romanian citizens from actually bringing them together. For the Hungarian communities, it is difficult to celebrate this day, as it represents the day when the Hungarian Kingdom lost part of its territories.
1st of December is not Romania’s first National Day
In Romania, the National Day celebration was held for the first time on May 10, 1866. It was related to the day when Prince Carol of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen entered Bucharest to take the oath of faith before the Parliament as ruler of Romania.
The same day also meant the proclamation of Romania as an independent state in 1877, but also the coronation of King Carol I in 1881, that day being one of the most spectacular celebrations in Romania’s history.
Thus, May 10 became a national holiday celebrated by different festivities and by the parades of the army, traditions usually kept even today.
At the end of WWII, Romania became a Communist country, so a new National Day was required. The monarchy was removed from power. The young King Michael Ist was forced to abdicate in 1947, and the National Day was declared on August 23, referring to the day when Romania turned its weapons against Nazi Germany in 1944 World War II.
What to do in Romania on the 1st of December?
Despite the cold, there are many ways to have fun on the 1st of December in Romania.
In Bucharest, according to the tradition, you can admire the parade of the Romanian military accompanied by Romanian strategic partners. These parades are the delight of children, and they are organized along the Kiseleff Boulevard crossing the Arch of Triumph Square. Usually, the parade starts at 11:00 am. The Aviatorilor metro station is closed to the Arch of Triumph Square.
The Christmas Fairs are also the attraction of the day. Bucharest Christmas Market was already inaugurated and waits for the curious visitors. Also, all over the country, the Christmas Fairs will be inaugurated on December 1st. Check here the list of Romanian Christmas Markets for 2019.
Also, here you will find out many other ways of spending a wonderful time in Bucharest: what to visit, where to eat, etc.
The military parade is also organized in Alba Iulia, the place where the Union Proclamation was adopted. The parade starts at 13:00.
If you have more time in Romania, consider a day trip from Bucharest to Transylvania and visit the Carpathian Castles: Peles Castle and Bran castle.
Happy National Day, Romania!