Statehood Day (Dan državnosti) is a holiday that occurs every year on May 30 in Croatia to celebrate the country’s 1991 declaration of independence from Yugoslavia. Statehood Day is an official state holiday. As such, many residents enjoy a day off of work.
By 2020, Statehood Day was celebrated on June 25. On September 19, 2019, the government changed the law on national holidays and officially moved this holiday from June 25 to May 30. On May 30, 1990, the first democratically elected multi-party parliament was constituted, which is the significance of this date.
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The facts are these…
The conflict in former Yugoslavia reached its peak in the spring of 1991. Croatia and Slovenia declared their sovereignty a year before and held the first free parliamentary elections. However, at that time, the terms sovereignty and independence were not synonymous.
Croatia and Slovenia sought a peaceful way of breaking away from Yugoslavia. These two countries were interested in possibly creating a confederation of sovereign republics instead of one single nation. Meanwhile, there was a rebellion of Serbs in parts of Croatia. What remained of the federal government of Yugoslavia was completely paralyzed.
In such circumstances, Croatia issued a referendum on May 19. Eighty-three percent of the voters replied to the referendum out of which 93.2 percent voted YES for Croatian sovereignty. The referendum offered two options.
In the first, Croatia would become a sovereign and independent state, guaranteeing cultural autonomy and civil rights to Serbs and other minorities in Croatia, free to form an association of sovereign states with other former Yugoslav republics. In the second, Croatia would remain in Yugoslavia as a unified federal state.
To this day, the referendum holds the record for the largest turnout in Croatian history and is one of the most significant Croatian historical events. On 25 June 1991, the Croatian Parliament met and adopted a Constitutional Declaration on the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Croatia.
The Croatian Parliament proclaimed the existence of the Republic of Croatia, until then a part of Socialist Yugoslavia, a sovereign and independent state. By this act, Croatia became an independent state, initiated the separation process from other Yugoslav republics, and sought international recognition.
In December 1991, Germany independently recognized Croatia and in January 1992 so did the rest of Europe, followed by the rest of the world.
Typical state activities on this occasion involve speeches by the President of Croatia, the Prime Minister, and other dignitaries, as well as a commemoration of the Croatian War of Independence.
The commemoration usually begins at the Mirogoj City Cemetery in Zagreb. Croatian president, the Prime Minister, and other dignitaries lay wreaths and light candles in front of the Central Cross of Croatian War Veterans in the Alley of Killed Croatian War Veterans.
They also lay wreaths on the grave of the first Croatian president Franjo Tuđman, at the grave of the unidentified victims of the Croatian War of Independence, and in the memorial park near the monument called “Voice of the Croatian Victim – Wall of Pain”.
After the ceremony at Mirogoj, a Holy Mass for the Croatian homeland is served. It is usually led by the Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanić.
Every year, the government holds a military parade at Jelačić Square in the country’s capital, Zagreb. The government also holds a meeting with the parliament and conducts a ceremonial session to discuss matters related to the country’s international and internal affairs.
In other Croatian cities, Statehood Day is also commemorated by laying wreaths and lighting candles near monuments and graves of Croatian War Veterans. Some cities also organize sports and entertainment events.
View a list of all Croatia national holidays here.
Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. We can recommend one if you contact us.