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Independence Day

Independence Day 2018 and 2019

Independence Day in Ukraine is celebrated every 24 August to remember the day in 1991 when the Ukrainian parliament declared the country to be fully independent of the Soviet Union. In 2018, the holiday falls on a Friday.

YearDateDayHoliday
201824 AugFriIndependence Day
201924 AugSatIndependence Day
26 AugMonIndependence Day Holiday
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Today, Independence Day is celebrated in Ukraine in a big way throughout the whole land. It is a day to remember the heroes of Ukraine’s past and honour those who fought and died to secured their long-desired independence.

Although Ukrainians have always had their own language and culture, they have seldom had their own independent nation-state. For centuries, they were dominated by Russia, Poland, Turkey, and other foreign nations.

By the early 1800’s, present day Ukraine was mostly under the control of the Russian Empire, though a few of its most western parts were controlled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After World War I and during the Russian Civil War that immediately followed, Ukrainians tried to escape from Russian control. By 1922, however, Poland controlled a good deal of western Ukraine, while the Soviet Union controlled the rest.

During the reign of Joseph Stalin, millions of Ukrainian farmers were starved to death for resisting the state takeover of their farms. This further encouraged Ukrainians to long for independence. Then, during World War II, some Ukrainians rose up and fought against both the Russian and German forces occupying their land. Even after the war, some resistance continued as late as 1950.

As the Soviet Union began to weaken in the 1980’s, Ukrainians again sensed an opportunity to try for independence. On 16 July 1990, their parliament declared independence. This is why the first Independence Day celebrations were held on July 16th. After a coup tried to reinstate hardline Communist control in Moscow, the parliament again declared independence on 24 August 1991. The decision was then ratified by the people in a December 1st referendum that year, in which 90 percent voted in favour of independence.

Since 2004, “Independence Day Eve” has been celebrated as “National Flag Day” in Ukraine. The flag was originally adopted in 1918 by the failed revolt after World War I, but it was officially adopted in 1992 by the present Ukrainian state. It consists of two equally sized horizontal bands, an upper band of blue and a lower band of golden yellow. The blue represents the sky, waterways and sea coast, and mountains of Ukraine, and the golden yellow stands for the golden fields of wheat that cover much of the country.