True Lithuania

Lithuania celebrates its 100th birthday

The Republic of Lithuania is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 1918 independence declaration today. To commemorate this, there are many events all over Lithuania. Many of the projects meant to commemorate the centenary have been already completed beforehand, including the True Lithuania's "Destination America" project that has created an interactive map of the Lithuanian sites in the USA.

Seemingly just as many are about to take place today, ranging from state-sponsored ones to private actions of people and companies. Many of those who did not create an event or a unique commemoration themselves would at least mount a Lithuanian flag. While typically one flag per building is considered enough for holidays, today many additional flags are flown at numerous windows.

A 100 sign being constructed in the town of Šilutė. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Many anniversaries of Lithuania

While the Republic of Lithuania 100th anniversary is often portrayed as Lithuania's 100th birthday, the reality is more complex. Having had a sad and turbulent history, Lithuania has not one but several days of its creation (or, re-creation after occupation).

1918 02 16 was the day when Republic of Lithuania was declared, ending the 120+ years of Russian Imperial occupation that even had Lithuanian language banned. However, the Russians have since occupied Lithuania again in 1940 (as the Soviet Union). Therefore, to many foreigners, 1990 03 11 is the most well-known independence date: the day when Lithuania regained its independence from the Soviet Union (and was not ever occupied again).

Around midnight before the centenery, a Lithuanian airline used its plane to draw '100' with its route

Around midnight before the centenery, a Lithuanian airline used its plane to draw '100' with its route

In reality, however, Lithuania is much older even than 1918 as it exists since at least the 13th century. Back then, it used to be a Grand Duchy. Its exact date of founding is unknown, therefore, July 6th has been chosen as a national festival as it coincides with the presumed date the Lithuania's first king Mindaugas was crowned.

Many still remember, however, that Lithuania celebrated its millennium in 2009 and the reason for that was that the name of Lithuania was first mentioned in a written source in 1009, some, therefore, considering 1009 to be the date of Lithuania's foundation.

Amphibious vehicle that transports people over the flooded section of the Šilutė-Rusnė road adorned with flags of Lithuania. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

There are also numerous less-popular foundation dates, e.g. the June 23rd, when Lithuanians deposed the Soviet regime in 1941 (but were occupied by Nazi Germany the same week), or the September of 1991 total collapse of the Soviet Union when Lithuania was recognized and Lithuania joined the United Nations.

In any case, Lithuanians surely have many dates to celebrate, and therefore many anniversaries. For instance, 2020 will mark the 30th year after the 1990 independence restoration.

A typical window flag in Vilnius. Lithuanian flag sales soared this month. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

See also: 20 key moments of Lithuanian history

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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