Bulgaria Liberation Day – March 3, 2023

Bulgarian Liberation Day is commemorated on March 3 each year. The Treaty of San Stefano recognized Bulgaria as an independent state in 1878. This festival commemorates the Bulgarian volunteers who, with the help of Russian and Romanian soldiers, freed Bulgaria from nearly 500 years of Ottoman control during the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878).

History of Bulgaria Liberation Day

In about 681 A.D., Bulgaria formed a unified entity now called the First Bulgarian Empire. From 1185 to 1396, the Second Bulgarian Empire existed before falling to the Ottoman Empire. For almost 500 years, Bulgaria was under Ottoman authority.

Two failed uprisings against the Ottomans in 1875 and 1876 resulted in the killing of about 15,000 Bulgarians. Tzar Alexander II led Russia against the Ottomans in 1877, and on March 3, 1878, Russia and the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of San Stefano after fierce conflicts and considerable loss of life. The Principality of Bulgaria, often known as the Third Bulgarian State, was established as a result of the pact.

It was the first of several steps toward Bulgaria’s independence. The influence of the San Stefano Treaty was opposed by the Great Powers, and it was initially replaced by the Treaty of Berlin on July 13.

Despite this, Bulgaria gained independence from the Ottoman Empire on March 3, 1878, and was able to establish its leadership, government, and culture. Prince Alexander of Battenberg was elected as Bulgaria’s first ruler on March 3, 1880.

The Treaty of San Stefano, negotiated on March 3, 1878, bound the Ottoman Empire to recognize the re-foundation of the Bulgarian state that had been conquered during the Bulgarian–Ottoman wars in the 1300s. On February 19, 1880, it was declared the Day of Emperor Alexander II’s Assassination and the Signing of the San Stefano Peace Treaty for the first time.

The Principality of Bulgaria declared its Liberation Day on the occasion of its 10th anniversary in 1888. It wasn’t until 1978 that it began to be commemorated on a national level. On February 27, 1990, the Chairman of the State Council issued Decree 236 declaring it a national holiday, which took effect on March 5, 1990.

Liberation Day is commemorated with celebrations all around the country, particularly in smaller communities. During the war for independence, most of these small towns were virtually devastated, and it is a somber occasion to remember the tyranny, struggle, and liberation. Flowers and messages are frequently left on Bulgarian Liberation Monuments, and many people also mark the occasion with fireworks.

Bulgaria Liberation Day timeline

1877
The War Starts

The Russo-Turkish War begins.

1878
The Treaty Is Signed

The San Stefano Treaty is signed on March 3, recognizing Bulgaria as an independent state.

1880
First Liberation Day Celebration

Bulgaria Liberation Day is observed for the first time on February 19.

1888
Official Designation as Liberation Day

The Principality of Bulgaria officially designates the observance as Liberation Day during the 10th anniversary.

Bulgaria Liberation Day FAQs

What does Bulgaria have a reputation for?

Bulgaria is known for being Europe’s oldest country! Khan Asparuh founded the city in 681 A.D., and it has kept its ancient name ever since. 

What happened to Bulgaria in World War II?

The Soviet Union invaded Bulgaria during World War II, and a Communist administration was established in 1946, with Georgi Dimitrov at the head. In 1946, the monarchy was deposed, and the tsar was exiled. The Bulgarian People’s Republic was created and lasted until 1990.

Was Bulgaria a part of the Soviet Union?

Bulgaria remained a member of the Soviet bloc till 1989 when the Bulgarian Communist Party began to break away from the Soviet Union. In 1990, the first multi-party elections were conducted, and the Bulgarian Communist Party lost power in the next year’s elections.

How to Observe Bulgaria Liberation Day

  1. Attend an event in Bulgaria

    The Balkan Mountains' Shipka Pass is the focus of events commemorating a crucial battle that took place there. There will be religious services, wreath-laying, and a military parade in Sofia to commemorate those who died in the conflict.

  2. Make Bulgaria your next holiday destination

    Bulgaria is the ideal location for your next vacation. Mountain ranges, prairies, the Black Sea Coast, rivers, and hot springs are all part of Bulgaria's natural diversity.

  3. Try Bulgarian cuisine

    Bulgarian cuisine represents part of the top picks of Eastern European cuisine. Try culinary delights like the Banitsa or Tarator to celebrate.

5 Facts About Bulgaria That Will Blow Your Mind

  1. It’s ancient

    Bulgaria is Europe's oldest country with a name that hasn't changed since its founding.

  2. Reverse thinkers

    Instead of nodding, Bulgarians shake their heads to show their approval.

  3. Top marks

    Bulgaria is Continental Europe’s record holder for the most natural mineral springs, with roughly 600.

  4. Creative lot

    The Cyrillic alphabet was created by two famous Bulgarian monks, Cyril and Methodius.

  5. Oldtimer

    Sofia, Bulgaria's capital, is Europe's second-oldest city, having been founded 7,000 years ago.

Why Bulgaria Liberation Day is Important

  1. Crucial date in Bulgarian history

    Liberation Day marks an important date in the country’s history. Celebrations carry a symbolic meaning of their break away from Ottoman rule.

  2. Honoring the fallen heroes

    There were several attempts to liberate Bulgaria, many of which claimed countless lives. The observance is an opportunity to appreciate the efforts of all those that contributed to unifying Bulgaria.

  3. Reflection for the small communities

    During the war for independence, several small communities were nearly destroyed. It's a somber occasion for recalling the oppression and conflict that characterized that period.

Bulgaria Liberation Day dates

YearDateDay
2022March 3Thursday
2023March 3Friday
2024March 3Sunday
2025March 3Monday
2026March 3Tuesday

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