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Martyr's Day in Myanmar – July 19, 2023

People in Myanmar celebrate Martyrs’ Day on July 19 each year, one of the most important national holidays in the country. This celebration was initially created to commemorate the memory of renowned fallen figures within the Myanmar independence movement. This holiday has been celebrated in the country for several decades, and remains one of the most important occasions. It also marks an important historical event in Myanmar; recognizing the country’s independence.

History of Martyr's Day in Myanmar

Martyrs’ Day in Myanmar is a national holiday that commemorates the memory of the killing of several leaders of Myanmar’s independence movement who were gunned down on July 19, 1947. These leaders were Aung Sun, Ba Cho, Sao San Tun, and six others — all of whom held leading positions in the Myanmar shadow government. As figures of the independence movement, the government of the Burmese colony plotted their assassination, which led to marking the day as a key historical moment in the country’s history.

The perpetrators were eventually executed. However, the significance of this event is due to it being a precursor to the country’s independence. In 1948, Myanmar (known as Burma, at the time) finally declared its independence from Britain, and began a long and arduous process of building a new country. What distinguishes Myanmar in this regard is the fact that it did not become a member of the British Commonwealth, but rather, a completely independent nation.

A mausoleum was built in honor of the victims in Yangon, the largest city in the country. Until today, many people, including government officials, visit the mausoleum during the Burmese Martyrs’ Day to pay respects and honor the memory of the fallen heroes. The mausoleum still stands today as one of the most significant landmarks in the country. As part of the commemoration related to Martyrs’ Day, a traditional poem eulogizing the martyrs is customarily recited during the celebrations, and is still iconic of the holiday. Several observances take place during the observance, albeit not celebratory. As much as this day celebrates the birth of a nation, it also commemorates a tragic moment in its history.

Martyr's Day in Myanmar timeline

1947
The Independence Leaders are Gunned Down

The leaders of the independence movement are killed by political rivals on July 19, a tragic day in Myanmar’s history.

1948
Myanmar Becomes Independent

After years of struggle, Myanmar finally declares independence from the British Empire.

1985
Rebuilding the Mausoleum

After being destroyed in a botched assassination attempt, the Martyr’s Mausoleum in Yangon is renovated.

2011
Public Entry

The government of Myanmar allows public access to the mausoleum, which draws large crowds on this holiday.

Martyr's Day in Myanmar FAQs

What is Myanmar’s old name?

Under British rule, Myanmar was known as Burma. The country’s name was later changed to Myanmar after independence.

What is Myanmar famous for?

Myanmar is famous mainly for its various Buddhist temples and as an important hub of Buddhism. The country is also home to some beautiful beaches.

What language do they speak in Myanmar?

The official language of Myanmar is Birman, or Burmese, which the population spoke even during the colonial era.

How to Observe Martyr's Day in Myanmar

  1. Read about the country’s history

    To truly understand the significance of this holiday, and what it means to the people of Myanmar, it’s necessary to read about its history. Myanmar has a rich and complex history, the ramifications of which are still felt to this day.

  2. Visit local communities

    The Burmese diaspora has a strong presence in many parts of the world. Make sure to visit local communities, associations, or even cultural centers during this special occasion. The people are welcoming and would be more than glad to share their history.

  3. Check out the arts and culture

    What would be a better celebration for one of Myanmar’s most iconic holidays? Check out Burmese arts and culture, which is quite different from what we’re used to. This can be a truly fun and rewarding experience.

5 Interesting Facts About Myanmar

  1. Myanmar or Burma?

    Myanmar is known by both names; Burma, the name of the country under the British Empire, and Myanmar, its new designation.

  2. Ancient temples

    Myanmar is home to many ancient Buddhist temples, as it hosted a thriving empire in the 12th century, where Buddhism flourished.

  3. City appearing overnight

    The city of Naypyidaw had been built in secret and only officially announced in 2005, as it became the new capital of the country.

  4. Shwedagon Pagoda

    The Shwedagon Pagoda is a large monument in Yangon, which people visit from around the country, and is gilded with 60 tons of gold.

  5. A diverse country

    Myanmar is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, home to more than 100 different ethnic groups.

Why Martyr's Day in Myanmar is Important

  1. The story of a nation

    Many communities have suffered greatly from the death of a leader. Like many countries that suffered from colonialism throughout parts of the 20th century, the story of the martyrs is pivotal in terms of the building of a nation.

  2. Tragic moment in history

    Very scant historical events happen to become a continual celebration. In Myanmar, the death of the martyrs is a traumatic event, and one of the most important in its modern history. The tragedy of the killing of these men still weighs on the entire nation.

  3. A national holiday

    Like many national holidays, Martyrs’ Day in Myanmar, as much as it is a historical celebration, also portrays the culture of its people. The tradition, the festivities, the customary practices, as well as the poem associated with the holiday, are all a portrayal of a thriving and diverse culture.

Martyr's Day in Myanmar dates

YearDateDay
2023July 19Wednesday
2024July 19Friday
2025July 19Saturday
2026July 19Sunday
2027July 19Monday

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