Among the two Lithuanian Independence Day celebrations is the Restoration of the State Day in Lithuania, which is celebrated every February 16. It is a time when the country is adorned with the national colors: yellow, green, and red. Not many nations get to have two independence days. As Lithuania was once a sovereign nation and the largest in Europe as far back as the 13th century, its freedom from foreign rule is of even greater significance since it restores its lost glory.
History of Restoration of the State Day in Lithuania
Restoration of the State Day in Lithuania is commonly confused with Independence Restoration Day. Both these days are public holidays and are regarded as independence days in the country. However, the former signifies the restoration of the lost glory of the state from the Germans, while the latter celebrates the restoration of independence from the Soviet Union.
Earlier in the 13th century and up until the late 18th century, Lithuania was a sovereign European nation with a rich historical background. However, the Russian Empire took over the reins of the country and retained its hold on it until the First World War. Between 1914 and 1917, the advancing German forces of W.W.I. took control of Lithuania, and when the Russians launched counterattacks on the nation, the Germans gave Lithuanians a choice to side with either them or the Russians, hoping that the citizens would choose them.
However, the brave Lithuanians chose neither Germany nor Russia and instead declared themselves independent from German rule on February 16, 1918. This event marked Lithuania’s first independence. Since Lithuania had been a sovereign nation before then, the day was named Restoration of the State Day in Lithuania, signifying their restored sovereignty. From then on, the country celebrated its independence every February 16. Unfortunately for them, their independence was short-lived and only lasted for 22 years before the Soviet Union took over the country in W.W.II. This invariably makes the country one of the few to be occupied by the Russians twice. The Russians continued to rule the nation even after the end of W.W.II, until when Lithuanians joined hands with Estonians to stage demonstrations and demand another independence. In 1990, their struggles were rewarded and they regained their freedom on March 16 — adopting yet again another Independence Day.
Restoration of the State Day in Lithuania timeline
The Russian Empire proclaims its rule over Lithuania.
The German Forces occupying Lithuania in W.W.I give the country the option to choose between them and Russia.
Lithuania gains independence from Germany following its decision to align with neither Germany nor Russia.
The Soviet Union occupies Lithuania during the Second World War.
Lithuanians, alongside Estonians, hold peaceful demonstrations against the U.S.S.R's occupation of their country.
Democratic elections are held, with the elected Parliament declaring independence from the Soviet Union.
Restoration of the State Day in Lithuania FAQs
What is March 11 in Lithuania?
March 11 is the second independence day celebration in Lithuania. It is known as Independence Restoration Day.
Why does Lithuania celebrate two independence days?
The country had been colonized/occupied by two different nations at two different times. They gained independence from the two nations on different days.
For how long has Lithuania been independent?
Before being colonized, Lithuania had been a sovereign, independent nation until the late 18th century. While its first independence from Germany lasted for 22 years, it has been free from the Soviet Union’s rule for the past 32 years.
How to Observe Restoration of the State Day in Lithuania
Organize fun events
Set up fun activities like local music concerts, dance, theater arts, and so on. Make sure the country's rich history is featured in all the events.
Embrace Lithuanian culture
One of the best compliments you can give a country and its people is by respecting and even adopting their culture. So, try on their traditional attire, sing folk songs, and cook the local dishes to show your appreciation.
Fly the flag
The Lithuanian flag is undoubtedly a source of great pride for the people of the country. Don't just fly the flag, engage in body art and decorate yourself in Lithuania’s national colors — yellow, red, and green.
5 Interesting Facts About Lithuania
A special language
Lithuanian is the oldest surviving Indo-European language in the whole of Europe.
Painting the river green
The River Vilnia in Lithuania is dyed bright emerald green every year to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day.
A national perfume
Lithuania actually has a national perfume called “The Scent of Lithuania,” which is made from wildflowers, raspberry, ginger, musk scents, and sandalwood.
Covered in forests
Around one-third (40%) of the country is forestland.
Last to be Christianized
It is the last country in Europe to accept Christianity and used to practice a pagan religion called Romuva.
Why Restoration of the State Day in Lithuania is Important
It marks freedom from colonialism
The holiday marks the end of the German occupation of the country. It is a restoration of the long-lost freedom of the Lithuanians.
It is full of fun
This day has lots of exciting activities to enjoy, which makes it a hit among the public. Parades and free concerts are held in the cathedral square of the Lithuanian capital, adding to the festive mood of the nation.
It reveals the cultural heritage of Lithuania
Cultural displays on this day show the world how rich in culture Lithuania is. The country’s indigenous heritage is characterized by its distinct Lithuanian language, Nordic influences, and Christian traditions as a consequence of historical ties with Poland.
Restoration of the State Day in Lithuania dates