The Republic of the Union of Myanmar celebrates Union Day on February 12 to commemorate the anniversary of Burma’s unification under the leadership of nationalist leader Bogyoke Aung San. Upon subsequent liberation from the British Empire, the Union of Myanmar became an independent republic. On February 12, It celebrates the end of 300 years of civil wars and colonization, as Burmese people stood up against the ravages of imperialism and rejected British rule. Union Day is a public holiday in Myanmar, and the nation celebrates it by holding a relay of the union flag. 45 townships hoist the flag in succession and the concluding ceremony is held at the People’s Square on Pyay Road.
History of Union Day
Union Day commemorates the 1947 Panglong Conference, which took place in the months preceding the country’s independence from the British. According to accounts, the conference in the hill town of Panglong was crucial in bringing the country’s varied multi-ethnic people together to form a cohesive and eventually sovereign nation.
Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) came under British administration in 1886, but the British drew a distinction between how central Burma was governed and how various ethnic groups in the surrounding areas were governed.
Following the end of WWII, General Aung San, the interim Burmese government’s leader, convened at Panglong with leaders from the Shan states, the Kachin hills, and the Chin hills to discuss Burma’s future. They came to an agreement on February 12, 1947, which was signed and passed. The agreement reunited Burma and required that the British administration grant all of Burma its freedom.
The Panglong Agreement was signed by Aung San, Myanmar’s national hero and interim president, as well as a few ethnic minority leaders who agreed to join the Union of Burma in return for federal authority.
The agreement was a watershed moment in Myanmar’s history since it paved the way for Burma’s independence in January 1948. The agreement also gave ethnic leaders the option of seceding from the union if they were unhappy with the new nation.
Aung San, on the other hand, did not live to see Burma attain independence. He was killed on July 19, 1947, just months before the country gained independence. Then, in 1962, a military coup ushered in nearly half a century of army dictatorship. Burma was renamed Myanmar by the military government in 1989.
Union Day timeline
The first Anglo-Burmese war wages between Burma and the British, ending in the Burmese cessation of the territory.
The British army consolidates the present-day Myanmar territory and declares it as a part of British India.
Myanmar comes under the control of the British administration.
Strikes and riots of resistance erupt throughout the country, and the British split the two territories of Myanmar and India.
The Empire of Japan causes an insurgency in the territory with an unsuccessful invasion, further uniting the citizens of the country against foreign powers.
The Panglong Conference reaches an agreement to grant freedom to Burma from British control.
In January, Burma finally becomes an independent state.
Burma is renamed Myanmar by the military government.
Union Day FAQs
What ethnic groups are there in Myanmar?
The major ethnic groups live in seven minority states in Burma. They are the Karenni, Chin, Rakhine, Mon, Shan, Kachin, and Karen. The Nagas, a complicated family of Tibetan-Burmese linguistic sub-groups that inhabit north Burma and are estimated to number over 100,000, are another important group.
What is Myanmar's predominant religion?
89.8% of people in the country identify as Buddhists, 6.3% as Christians, 2.3% as Muslims, 0.5% as Hindus, 0.8% as Animists, 0.2% under “others,” and 0.1% claim to have no religion.
Is Christianity tolerated in Myanmar?
Since 1948, when the country gained independence, there has been a ban on unrestricted entry of missionaries and religious items, which is considered anti-Christian.
Who signed the Panglong Agreement?
The Panglong Agreement was signed between nationalist leaders of Myanmar and Aung San at the second Panglong Conference on February 12, 1947
What is the best time to visit Myanmar?
The time between October to March is the best for a visit to Myanmar. The dry seasons present the most suitable combination of moderate temperature and adjustable weather.
What is the official language of Myanmar?
Burmese is the official language of Myanmar. It is also the most spoken language in the country.
How to Observe Union Day
Attend an event
There are several events held to celebrate this holiday in Myanmar. If you can, visit Myanmar and enjoy the cultural and patriotic events to celebrate Union Day.
Visit the monument
You can visit many important sites in Myanmar. The Panglong Monument is one such option; it is located on the site of the Panglong Agreement signing.
Learn more about Myanmar
Explore the traditions and history of Myanmar. Impress your friends and family with your newfound knowledge.
5 Facts About Myanmar That Will Blow Your Mind
Tea leaves, known as ‘lahpet’ in Myanmar, are fermented and consumed in the country's most popular meal, ‘lahpet thohk’ (tea leaf salad).
The most sacred of locations, Shwedagon Pagoda, is said to house eight strands of Gautama Buddha's hair, among many other treasures.
Diamonds in the sky
Not only is the Shwedagon Pagoda gold temple completely covered in gold leaf, but it also has over 4,500 diamonds on its very top.
Kiss and ask
As per the Burmese tradition, you must get the attention of the waiter by making a kissing sound in their direction.
Myanmar's population is made up of roughly 135 ethnic groups, making it number 75 on the global list of the most culturally and ethnically diverse countries.
Why Union Day is Important
It celebrates the heroes of independence
This observance is aimed at recognizing the efforts of those who fought for Myanmar’s independence. Their efforts were crucial to freeing the nation from British control.
It’s a key moment in Myanmar history
Union Day marks an important page in the country’s history. Burmans will celebrate this holiday for many years to come as a crucial piece of their country’s origins.
It renews commitment to federalism
The staunch belief in democratic governance and the rejection of dictatorship has long been the goal of Myanmar's politics. On Union Day, the country comes together to celebrate the ideals of its foundation and commits itself to equality and democracy.
Union Day dates