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Happy Romanian National Day! What do Romanians celebrate on the 1st of December?

Most of us know that Romania’s national day is celebrated on the 1st of December. However, less and less students seem to be aware, or even interested in why we celebrate this special day. As a Romanian, I think that it is crucial for us to know more about our history, and I think that it’s great for international students to understand more about the country in which they live as well, so what happened on the 1st of December 1918?

The 1st of December 1918 was a beautiful, snowy winter day, and the sense of celebration could be felt in the air. Author Emil Isac described this day as “Dawn is breaking. It’s snowing gently. The Romanian legion parades through the streets, preceded by the marching bands of miners and officers. It is a demonstration like never before, which no man of culture can retain himself from admiring...” The National Assembly of Romanians took place in Alba Iulia. 1,228 elected representatives from Transylvania, Banat, Maramureş and Crişana voted unanimously on the Resolution of Alba Iulia, which declared the Unification of Transylvania with the Romanian Kingdom.

The resolution also declared the “fundamental principles for the foundation of the new Romanian state”. These conditions included the preservation of a democratic local autonomy, and the equality of all religions and nationalities in Romania. On that day, the assembly also formed the High National Romanian Council of Transylvania, the new parliament of Transylvania, which was made up of 200 of its representatives and 50 external assimilated members. On December 2nd, the High National Romanian Council of Transylvania formed the Directory Council of Transylvania, a government headed by Iuliu Maniu.

On December 11th 1918 King Ferdinand signed the Law regarding the Union of Transylvania, Banat, Maramureş, Crişana and Satu Mare with the Old Kingdom of Romania, declaring that “The lands named in the National Assembly are and remain forever united with the Kingdom of Romania.”

The 1st of December was declared a national holiday on August 1st 1990, when Romania’s national day was moved from August 23, which marked the Liberation from Fascist Occupation Day, as in 1944 the pro-fascist government of Marshal Ion Antonescu was overthrown, to the 1st of December. The first celebration of the National Day saw the largest excitement in Alba Iulia, where the Unification was signed. A humorous moment occurred on that day, that has since spread widely in the Romanian mass media: Corneliu Copoşu, the then leader of the anticommunist opposition, was interrupted repeatedly by boos from the crowd during his speech, and Petre Roman, the prime minister, seemed to be enjoying it so much that Ion Iliescu, the then president, had to tell him to stop.

Nowadays, the 1st of December is celebrated in Bucharest with the grand National Military Parade, that takes place in Piata Constituției, where the Romanian Armed Forces march and mobiles such as tanks, APCs, IFVs, aircrafts, logistics vehicles, police vehicles and emergency vehicles follow. Each year, the President of Romania is the guest of honor and is welcomed by a trumpeter, before saluting the guards. The Romanian national anthem “Deșteaptă-te Române!” is performed by the Massed Bands of the Bucharest Garrison, which includes musicians from the Mihai Viteazu 30th Guards Brigade, as well as the military and civilian choir. A 21-gun is shot as a salute, and the president places a wreath before returning to his grandstand and watching the parade. Foreign troops are also sometimes included in the demonstration, such as Molodovan, Turkish, American and British troops. Various parades also take place in other major Romanian cities.

I hope that this has given you some insight into what occurred on the 1st of December 1918, and why it is so important to the Romanian people. It is crucial for us, Romanians, to know more about our own country’s past, and I thoroughly encourage international students to learn more about Romanian culture and history, as well as inform themselves about your own country’s history, if they are not familiar with it already. Happy 1st of December and la mulți ani!

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