Every year on August 24, Ukraine celebrates its Independence Day to commemorate the Declaration of Independence in 1991. This declaration established the democratic and sovereign state of Ukraine.
How does Ukraine celebrate its Independence Day?
The Independence Day is the occasion when Ukrainians celebrate their historic past, and honor the fallen heroes who lost their lives fighting for the country’s independence. It was first celebrated on July 16, 1991 to commemorate the first anniversary of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine that was accepted by its parliament (known as Verkhovna Rada), in 1990. The date of the holiday changed after the Declaration of Independence was issued, and confirmed.
Today, the Independence Day of Ukraine is country’s primary state holiday. The Independence Day celebrations begin with Day of National Flag, which is celebrated on eve of Independence Day - on August 23. On the following day, the celebrations include fairs, concerts, races, and parades.
What is the significance of the Independence Day in history of Ukraine?
Ukraine’s struggle for independence was not the archetypal freedom movement against a foreign colonial power. Instead, it was a struggle for secession from the former Soviet Union or USSR. By the early 19th century Ukraine was part of the Russian and the Austro-Hungarian Empires. While most of Ukraine was under Russian control, the extreme west, - Lviv and neighboring areas - was occupied by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. By the 1840s, the seeds of nationalism started to take shape in the Ukrainian society.
Following World War I and the Russian Civil War (1917-1922), Ukraine made several attempts to proclaim freedom. The Ukrainian People's Republic was formed in 1919 and united both Russian and Austro-Hungarian Ukraine but was short-lived and could not withstand Polish onslaught. In 1922, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic became a member of Soviet Union. Initially Soviet policy was more tolerant as it allowed cultural autonomy and local administration by Ukrainian Communists, however all that changed during Stalin’s era. Stalin’s stringent policies egged on the spirit of nationalism in Ukraine.
In World War II, the Ukrainians fought against both Soviet and Germans armies, and the resistance movement continued until 1950. Ukrainian freedom movement strengthened in wake of a weakening Soviet Union. In March 1990, quasi-free elections were held, and on July 16, 1990, the Communist parliament declared Ukraine as an independent nation.
Following a failed coup by the conservative Communist leaders to reinstate control of the Central Communist Party over the USSR, the Ukrainian Parliament signed the Act of Declaration of Independence on August 24, 1991. The citizens of Ukraine voted in favor of this declaration on December 1, 1991. Leonid Kravchuk was elected as the first president of the independent nation of Ukraine and August 24 came to be celebrated as the country’s Independence Day.
What does the flag of Ukraine represent?
Ukrainian flag is a horizontal bi-color flag featuring the colors - blue and yellow . The flag was originally adopted in 1918 by the short-lived Ukrainian People's Republic and then was reinstated in 1992, after Ukraine broke away from Soviet Union and became an independent nation. The current flag was adopted by the Parliament of Ukraine, referred to as the Verkhovna Rada, in 1992. The blue represents the sky, mountains, and waters of Ukraine, while the golden-yellow band of the flag is symbolic of wheat fields of the country.
Who wrote the national anthem of Ukraine? The song, Shche ne vmerla Ukraina, was first used as the national anthem of Ukrainian People's Republic. It was readopted as the national anthem in 1992, following the collapse of Soviet Union, and independence of Ukraine. Pavlo Chubynsky, a famous ethnographer wrote the lyrics in 1862, and Mykhailo Verbytsky, a priest composed the tune in 1863. The lyrics of the Ukrainian anthem are inspired by the Polish national anthem Poland is not yet lost. In 1864, the first performance of the song took was staged at Ukraine Theatre in Lviv.