Independence Restoration Day is a nationally celebrated holiday in Lithuania on March 11. The national holiday depicts the declaration of independence of Lithuania from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990. It is often mistaken for Restoration of the State Day, on February 16. The difference between the two holidays is that Independence Restoration Day celebrates independence from the Soviet Union, while Restoration of the State Day celebrates independence from German rule. Lithuanians commemorate Independence Restoration Day celebrations with parades, concerts, and museum exhibitions.
History of Independence Restoration Day
Lithuania was an independent country until the 1800s when it became part of the Russian Empire. After the First World War, Lithuania gained its independence on February 16, 1918. Independence Day was known as Restoration of the State Day. Although it was a cause for celebration for Lithuanians, this independence celebration was short-lived as the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania during the Second World War in 1940. Lithuanians refused to sit back and let their freedom disappear. They joined forces with Latvia and Estonia to form the Baltic way, a nearly 400-mile human chain of approximately two million people.
Lithuanians continued to fight for their separation from the Soviet Union. In the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev’s reform policies spurred the Lithuanians to continue their quest for independence. Following five decades under the Soviet Union, Lithuanians voted for self-rule in 1990. On March 11, 1990, the democratically elected parliament declared Lithuania’s second Independence Day. The Soviet Union retaliated by imposing economic sanctions and resorted to violence against Lithuania but was averted by worldwide outrage against them. They finally conceded defeat in 1991 and accepted Lithuania’s independence. By July 29, 1991, the Russian Federation recognized Lithuania’s restoration of independence by signing a cross-border relation agreement with Lithuania.
In the struggle for Lithuania’s independence, many lost their lives. By 2004, Lithuania became a member of the European Union. It has been 32 years since Lithuania gained its freedom from the Soviet Union. Lithuania celebrates its independence days annually to commemorate its history and fight for freedom. What a worthy cause to celebrate!
Independence Restoration Day timeline
Russian and Swedish forces overrun Lithuania for the first time.
The Russian Empire bans the Lithuanian language and persecutes the Catholic faith.
Almost two million Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians stand hand-in-hand in opposition to the Soviet Union regime.
Lithuania becomes the first Soviet-ruled Republic to declare independence, triggering a rapid decline of the Union.
In 2004, Lithuania joins the European Union and becomes a member state of the E.U.
Independence Restoration Day FAQs
What is Lithuania famous for?
Lithuania is known for its lush landscapes and national parks.
From whom did the Lithuanians descend?
500 noble Romans allegedly started the dynasties of Lithuanian dukes and gentry.
Why are Lithuanians Catholic?
Lithuania kept its Catholic identity under the Russian Empire when some Catholic priests led the resistance against a communist regime.
How to Observe Independence Restoration Day
Share social media posts and images and use hashtags to spread awareness on this historic day and the events leading up to it. Use the hashtag #IndependenceRestorationDay.
Attend the flag-raising ceremony
The flag-raising ceremony takes place virtually and in cities across Lithuania. During the ceremony, the flags of Lithuania and the Baltic nations are raised.
Create and enjoy a Lithuanian feast
Whip up a Lithuanian feast with friends and family. You can make dishes such as ‘Žirniai Su Spirgučiais’ (split peas and crispy bacon), ‘Saltibarsciai’ (beetroot soup), ‘Vedarai’ (sausages), and ‘Kibinai’ (stuffed crimped pies).
5 Interesting Facts About Lithuania’s Independence Restoration Day
The first post-Soviet democratic elections in Lithuania took place in 1992, and the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party won.
Lithuania's independence restoration started a revolution
Lithuania was the first of 15 states to gain independence from the Soviet Union, and many others followed in its footsteps.
Oldest European language
The Lithuanian language is one of the oldest languages in Europe.
Largest European country
Lithuania was the largest European country at the end of the 14th century.
The world’s fastest internet
It might surprise you, but Lithuania has the fastest internet broadband connection in the world!
Why Independence Restoration Day is Important
It promotes democracy
The Lithuanian Restoration Independence Day promotes the ideals of democracy. These are liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and equality.
It honors fallen heroes
Independence Restoration Day commemorates and honors the Lithuanians who made sacrifices for the independence restoration. It also honors those who have defended the country over the years.
It promotes patriotism
Celebrating Independence Restoration Day promotes patriotism among the citizens and encourages them to embody Lithuania's values. We love this!
Independence Restoration Day dates