Each year on February 24th, The Republic of Estonia celebrates its Independence Day. Festivities are already gearing up for the big celebration.
Roughly 100 years ago, the Estonian people were caught in a battle for independence from the Russian Empire, from 1917 to 1920. The most significant day was February 24th, 1918, on which Estonia declared statehood, which is commemorated as a national holiday.
The dream of sovereignty
Throughout centuries of rule by foreign powers, Estonians never lost sight of becoming an independent state. On February 23th, 1918, in the wake of the Russian Revolution, the Manifesto to the Peoples of Estonia declaring Estonia an sovereign nation was announced from the balcony of the Endla Theatre in Pärnu. The crowd below erupted into a rendition of what would become the national anthem Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm (My Fatherland, my Happiness and Joy). The following day, on February 24th, the manifesto reached Tallinn and was published, marking the birth of the Republic of Estonia.
The Estonian and Finnish national anthems share the same melody, composed by Fredrik Pacius. The Estonian lyrics were added in 1869 by Johann Voldemar Jannsen and the title means "My Fatherland, my Happiness and Joy".
Each year February 24th is marked by fireworks, concerts, a parade of the defence forces and a presidential reception. Children and adults can admire military units and rejoice to the music of the orchestras of Defence Forces, Police and Border Guard and the United States Air Force. Following the parade, the Estonian president, Kersti Kaljulaid, will give a televised speech and bestow state decorations to guests of honour at a national reception.
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