Statehood Day in Croatia – Dan državnosti

Croatian flag
Croatian flag

Dan državnosti (Statehood Day) is a Croatian national holiday that occurs every year on May 30. On this day, Croatia celebrates its 1991 declaration of independence from Yugoslavia. It is an official state holiday, and many residents enjoy a day off from work.

Statehood Day was celebrated on June 25 until 2020. In 2019, the government changed the law and moved this holiday to May 30. This date is significant because the first democratically elected multi-party Parliament was constituted on May 30, 1990.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

History of Croatian Statehood Day

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, the terms sovereignty and independence were not synonymous at that time.

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. 83% of the voters replied to the referendum, of which 93.2% voted YES for Croatian sovereignty. The referendum offered two options.

According to the first option, Croatia would become a sovereign and independent state, guaranteeing cultural autonomy and civil rights to Serbs and other minorities in Croatia. It would be free to form an association of sovereign states with other former Yugoslav republics. According to the second option, Croatia would remain a unified federal state in Yugoslavia.

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 Sabor (Croatian Parliament) met and adopted a Ustavna odluka o suverenosti i samostalnosti Republike Hrvatske (Constitutional Declaration on the Sovereignty and Independence of the Republic of Croatia).

[Read: Branches of Croatian Government]

The Croatian Parliament proclaimed the existence of the Republika Hrvatska (Republic of Croatia), until then a part of Socialist Yugoslavia, a sovereign and independent state. Croatia became an independent state by this act, initiated the separation process from other Yugoslav republics, and sought international recognition.

Germany independently recognized Croatia in December 1991, as did the rest of Europe in January 1992, followed by the rest of the world. The Statehood Day is defined by Zakon o blagdanima, spomendanima i neradnim danima u Republici Hrvatskoj (Law on holidays, memorial days, and non-working days in the Republic of Croatia), which is available here.

Croatian customs and activities on Statehood Day

Typical state activities on this occasion involve speeches by the Croatian president, the Prime Minister, and other dignitaries, as well as commemorating the Domovinski rat (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 Sredisnji križ u Aleji poginulih hrvatskih branitelja (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 Glas hrvatske žrtve – Zid boli (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.

Statehood Day is also commemorated in other Croatian cities 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 of Croatia’s national holidays here.

View other Croatian national holiday posts

30. svibnja – Dan državnosti by Hrvatski sabor

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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