Union Day in Myanmar on 12 February is a national holiday. The holiday commemorates the signing and passage of the Panglong Agreement, which united Burma in 1947. In theory, the agreement recognized total freedom in governance for the Frontier Areas and envisaged the Constituent Assembly creating a Kachin State.
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
Myanmar comes under the control of the British administration.
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.
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.
There are over 1,000 bird species in the country, six of which are indigenous and 51 of which are endangered.
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’s a reminder of peace and stability
Union Day is an important reminder of the sacrifices made to promote peace in the region. It is an inspiration that future generations can learn and build from.
Union Day dates