On August 5 each year, Croatia celebrates the national holiday Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and the Day of Croatian Defenders. It is called Dan pobjede i domovinske zahvalnosti i Dan hrvatskih branitelja in Croatian.
On this day, citizens commemorate the military action called Oluja (Operation Storm) from domovinski rat (Croatian War of Independence).
Oluja was the last major battle of Domovinski rat in 1995. During this battle, the Croatian army liberated the city of Knin, which had been occupied by the Serbian army.
This liberation resulted in the end of the Republic of Serbian Krajina proto-state.
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The facts are these…
The holiday was first celebrated on August 5, 1996. Its first name was Dan pobjede i domovinske zahvalnosti (Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day). In 2008, Dan hrvatskih branitelja (Day of Croatian Defenders) was added to the name of the holiday.
Dan hrvatskih branitelja celebrates current military service members and veterans of the Croatia Armed Forces called Oružane snage Republike Hrvatske (OSRH).
The battle of Oluja started on August 4, 1995, after a 4-year occupation by Serbia. At 12 noon on the dot, the Croatian flag was raised at the fortress of Knin, confirming its liberation.
On August 6, Plaško, Lički Osik, Vrhovine, Obrovac, Korenica, Slunj, and Plitvice were all liberated. The operation ended on August 7, 1995. Gračac, Lovinac, Benkovac, Kijevo, Vrliku, Dubicu, and Primišlje were liberated as well.
In just 84 hours, 10.400 square meters of occupied Croatian territory were freed, which amounts to 18.4% of the total territory of the Republic of Croatia.
Oluja and Bljesak were the main military actions that led to the end of the Domovinski rat.
The main celebration of the Dan pobjede i domovinske zahvalnosti i Dan hrvatskih branitelja is held in the city of Knin. Every year, Croatian politicians and citizens gather to lay wreaths in honor of the Croatian defenders who died in the war.
Candles are lit at the Spomenik hrvatske pobjede “Oluja 95” (Monument of Croatian Victory “Oluja 95”) in Knin. The Croatian flag is raised right at noon on the Kninska tvrđava (Knin fortress) as a memory of the liberation.
This is a highly attended event that continues with parades and concerts. Visitors get the chance to see the weapons and equipment used by the Croatian Army in the war.
The holiday is also celebrated in other Croatian cities such as Vukovar, Osijek, Petrinja, Rijeka, and Pula. These celebrations are also marked with lighting candles, laying wreaths, organizing parades, concerts, and fireworks.
To learn about other Croatian holidays, click here.
View other national holiday posts
- All Saint’s Day (Dan svih svetih) in Croatia
- Dan antifašističke borbe (Anti-Fascist Struggle Day)
- Corpus Christi (Tijelovo)
- Croatia national holidays
- Day of Remembering the Victims of Croatia War of Independence and Day of Remembering Victims of Vukovar and Škabrnja
- Epiphany (Bogojavljenje, Sveta tri kralja)
- How Croatia celebrates Easter
- Međunarodni praznik rada (Labor Day)
- Statehood Day (Dan državnosti)
- Sveti Stjepan, Štefanje (St. Stephen’s Day)
- Velika Gospa (Assumption of Mary)
Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. It is important to understand that Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change and each personal case is individual and different rules may apply. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant. We can recommend one if you contact us.