February 24th, birthday of a nation

Photo: Marek Kusmin Flickr

February 24th, birthday of a nation

  • Estonia's Independence day is on February 24th   Photo: Visit Estonia
  • Estonian Independence Day   Photo: Visit Estonia

Each year on February 24th, The Republic of Estonia celebrates its Independence Day. Festivities are already gearing up for the centenary in 2018.

Roughly 100 years ago, the Estonian people were caught in a battle for independence from the Russian Empire, from 1917 to 1920. The most significant day was February 24th, 1918, on which Estonia declared statehood, which is commemorated as a national holiday.

First Independence Day

Celebrations on the Freedom Square in Tallinn on the one year anniversary of independence on February 24th, 1919.  

Photo by: Wikimedia Commons

The dream of sovereignty

Throughout centuries of rule by foreign powers, Estonians never lost sight of becoming an independent state. On February 23th, 1918, in the wake of the Russian Revolution, the Manifesto to the Peoples of Estonia declaring Estonia an sovereign nation was announced from the balcony of the Endla Theatre in Pärnu. The crowd below erupted into a rendition of what would become the national anthem Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm (My Fatherland, my Happiness and Joy). The following day, on February 24th, the manifesto reached Tallinn and was published, marking the birth of the Republic of Estonia.

Centenary celebrations

Did you know?

The Estonian and Finnish national anthems share the same melody, composed by Fredrik Pacius. The Estonian lyrics were added in 1869 by Johann Voldemar Jannsen and the title means "My Fatherland, my Happiness and Joy".

Photo by: Guillaume Speurt

Each year February 24th is marked by fireworks, concerts, a parade of the defence forces and a presidential reception. This year, the parade will begin from Tallinn's FreedomSquare at noon. Children and adults can admire military units and rejoice to the music of the orchestras of Defence Forces, Police and Border Guard and the United States Air Force. Following the parade, the Estonian president, Kersti Kaljulaid, will give a televised speech and bestow state decorations to guests of honour at a national reception.

Estonia's 100th anniversary kicks off a larger series of festivities from April 2017 to February 2020 celebrating the events leading to the state's birth 100 years ago. Estonia's 100th birthday in 2018 will surely be something to behold, and towns across the country are invited to host birthday parties, open to the public, to continue the celebration throughout the year. From July, 2018, Estonia will host the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, adding to the list of special events.

Estonia 100 around the world

You're invited

Estonia 100, the centenary initiative, welcomes Estonians abroad as well as curious travellers to take part in the festivities!

Photo by: Visit Estonia 

One doesn't have to be in Estonia to take part in the centenary festivities. Events around the world, from Los Angeles to Moscow, will be organised by Estonian communities. Anyone planning an event can add theirs to the Estonia 100 programme here. People around the world are also encouraged to contribute a birthday 'gift' to Estonia in the form of a cultural initiative or event. Funding for Estonian children abroad to attend language and culture camps will also increase thanks to the Estonia 100 campaign. Estonians abroad and culture lovers alike are invited to join the events!

For more information, please visit events.estonia.ee

Last updated : 30.10.2018

In category: Tallinn, History & Culture

Estonian Independence Day
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