Bulgaria Day of Liberation from Ottoman Domination

Bulgaria Day of Liberation from Ottoman Domination

March 3
Bulgaria Day of Liberation from Ottoman Domination, celebrated each year on March 3, commemorates the day in 1878 when the Peace Treaty of San Stefano was struck between Russia and Turkey. The signing of this treaty put the nation of Bulgaria back on the map after an absence of about five centuries.
The Ottoman or Turkish Empire had consumed Bulgaria at the end of the 14th century. During the 18th century, a group of Bulgarians began working to revive the national identity of Bulgaria and to encourage Bulgarians to fight for their freedom ( see also Leaders of the Bulgarian National Revival Day ). In 1876, Georgi Benkowski led a rebellion against the Turks, but it was forcefully put down by the Ottoman forces, and some 30,000 people were killed. In 1877, Czar Alexander II of Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire, motivated by concern for the Orthodox Christians living in Bulgaria. A joint force of Russian and Bulgarian forces defeated the Ottoman troops at Shipka Pass, which led to the Treaty of San Stefano. Independence did not come instantly; Bulgaria was under Russian administration from 1877 to 1879.
In 1880, March 3 was celebrated in Bulgaria as the anniversary of the enthronement of Alexander II as the Russian Emperor. As Alexander's support had been critical to Bulgarian independence, he was and is seen as a liberator and a hero in Bulgaria. In 1888, March 3 was first observed as Bulgaria's Day of Liberation. It was pronounced a national holiday in 1978 and has been included in the official list of holidays since 1990. The Day of Liberation from Ottoman Domination is considered the most important holiday related to Bulgarian independence. Throughout Bulgaria, citizens pause on this day to pay tribute to those who helped Bulgaria to become a modern, independent country. Festivities marking the day often include parades, concerts, religious services, cultural exhibitions, and fireworks. Those who died fighting for Bulgaria's freedom are honored by the placement of ceremonial wreaths upon their graves.
CONTACTS:
Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria
1621 22nd St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-387-0174 or 202-299-0273; fax: 202-234-7973
www.bulgaria-embassy.org
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 38
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