Liberation Day in Bulgaria

Liberation Day is a holiday observed annually on March 3rd in Bulgaria and goes by the official name of the Bulgarian Day of Liberation from the Ottoman Empire. As the name suggests, this holiday honors all those who helped to liberate Bulgaria from nearly five centuries of Ottoman rule.

This holiday is marked by observances and celebrations across Bulgaria. These celebrations include everything from reenactments of famous battles to church services and memorial services for fallen soldiers—particularly those at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The History of Liberation Day in Bulgaria

In 1396, Bulgaria became part of the Ottoman Empire and would remain so until the 19th century. In April of 1876, uprisings began to spread across the entire Ottoman Empire, and before long, unrest had reached Bulgaria. The suppression of the revolts not only failed to suppress the uprisings as the Ottoman Empire had hoped, but it also led to Russia declaring war on them in April of 1877.

On March 3, 1878, the Treaty of San Stefano was signed. This treaty ended the war between the Ottoman Empire and Russia and made Bulgaria an autonomous state—although it still functioned as a vassal state under the Ottoman Empire. March 3rd would become the date on which Liberation Day would be observed every year from then on.

Fast Facts About Bulgaria

Below are some fast facts about Bulgaria to consider while celebrating Liberation Day.

  • Bulgaria was established in 681 AD.
  • Bulgaria is the only country in Europe that hasn’t changed its name since its formation.
  • Approximately a third of Bulgaria is forested.
  • Bulgaria is home to nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Observing Liberation Day in Bulgaria

One of the main celebrations for this holiday in Bulgaria takes place at the Shipka Pass in the Balkan Mountains, as a key battle was fought at that location. All across Bulgaria, there are also battle reenactments, wreath-laying ceremonies, and church services.

Where is it celebrated?
Bulgaria (National holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
Next year (2025)
March 3 Monday
Last year (2023)
March 3 Friday