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Bulgarian Unification Day

Unification Day is celebrated on September 6th. It marks the date that Bulgaria experienced unification in 1885. It had previously been separated due to the Treaty of Berlin signed in 1878 to resolve conflicts in the East.

So when did Bulgaria gain independence? The country gained independence from the Ottoman Empire just a few years earlier in 1878. Essentially, the Unification of Bulgaria formalised Bulgaria independence, and created a more stable, strengthened nation.

What is Bulgarian Unification Day?

This day commemorates the unification of Southern Bulgaria, then known as Eastern Rumelia and under Ottoman control, with the independent Principality of Bulgaria in 1885.

The Unification of Bulgaria was an act necessary to unite the Bulgarian state. The 1878 Treaty of Berlin enacted the separation of Bulgaria and the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia. In doing this, the treaty actually damaged the national integrity of the Bulgarian people.

The Bulgarians, however, did not accept this separation. They started trying to annex Eastern Rumelia, which, in accordance with the treaty, was an autonomous province under the authority of the Ottoman Empire, to the Principality of Bulgaria.

The Unification of Bulgaria was conducted by the so-called Bulgarian Secret Central Revolutionary Committee (BSCRC). Certain cities in Eastern Rumelia rose in revolt and this led to a military coup d’état on September 6, 1885.

This coup received support from Prince Alexander I—the first Bulgarian prince after the Liberation of Bulgaria. So the Unification was realized on this date, but received international recognition months later.

Army dressed in red uniforms marching on Unification Day

2. When is Bulgarian Unification Day?

Each year on 6 September, Bulgarians celebrate Unification Day.

3. Bulgarian Celebrations for Unification Day

Today, on Unification Day, Bulgarians celebrate with various events in the capital and in Plovdiv—a chief city in the historic events around the Unification—as well as in other cities such as Varna and Veliko Tarnovo.

In Sofia, in front of the ossuary mausoleum of Prince Alexander I Battenberg, on Vasil Levski Boulevard, people deliver speeches for the occasion. As with the celebration of the Liberation, on this day too, a solemn changing of the guard in front of the Presidency takes place.

4. Modern-Day Bulgaria

Which parts of modern-day Bulgaria made up the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia?

Although the name Eastern Rumelia creates the impression that this is the eastern part of Bulgaria, Eastern Rumelia is actually part of modern-day South Bulgaria, stretching between the Balkan Mountains and the Rhodope Mountains.

In Veliko Tarnovo the Sound and Light show will be on in the evening. Check out the Sound an Light Webpage for details of the time.

The sound and light show at Tsaravets in Veliko Tarnovo on Unification Day

To find out more about Celebration Days in Bulgaria, see our #Culture blog posts. A celebration date that is coming soon is Revival Day.

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