Armenian Independence Day or National Day is celebrated on September 21. It represents the day the people of Armenia voted to proclaim independence from the Soviet Union. Almost 95 percent of the qualified voters took part and more than 99 percent of these voters said “Yes” to having an independent, free, and self-governing state.
This was not Armenia’s first attempt at independence. They initially formed the First Republic of Armenia on May 28, 1918. This Republic was then taken over by the USSR in 1920. When the USSR dissolved in late 1991, Armenia officially gained its long sought-after independence.
Today, Armenians celebrate their independence and culture with festivities, fireworks, and flag-waving. In the capital city of Yerevan, the day begins in the central Republic Square with a live performance of Mer Hayrenik, the Armenian national anthem and other traditional songs. Dancers perform in traditional costume — big belt buckles for men and ornate headbands for women. The National Day parade includes a show of military strength. Armenia’s 25th anniversary parade in 2016 was the biggest celebration in Armenia’s history. More than 350,000 people were spectators of and participants in the events.
The evening celebrations center around the fireworks. If you’re lucky enough to be in Republic Square, you can watch them explode in the sky, reflected in the pool next to the dramatically lit opera house. Check out this fireworks video from 2018’s celebration!