Martyrs’ Day in Lebanon and Syria

Martyrs’ Day is a national holiday in Lebanon and Syria that commemorates the Lebanese and Syrian nationalists who were executed in Beirut and Damascus on May 6, 1916. Both plazas have now been renamed Martyrs’ Square, and the presidents of both countries pay their respects to the fallen.

During this day, thousands of Syrians gather at Martyrs’ Square, and the President of Syria lays flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Since this is a public holiday in both Syria and Lebanon, most people have the day off, and schools, businesses, and government offices are closed for the day.

The History of Martyrs’ Day

During the First World War, the Ottoman Empire entered the conflict alongside Germany. Jamal Pasha was appointed Governor of Greater Syria in 1915. His offenses against the Allies were beginning to fail, and Arab nationalism was on the rise.

On May 6, 1916, he executed 20 Syrian nationalists who were caught cooperating with the French and the British in an attempt to weaken the Ottoman Empire. These nationalists were labeled traitors and were executed in Marjeh Square in Damascus—a square that was eventually renamed Martyrs’ Square in 1931. The commemoration of the martyrs who were executed has been observed ever since.

Facts About Syria & Lebanon

Below are some facts we’ve uncovered about Syria and Lebanon, and we have placed them in the following list for everyone’s consideration. We think that the following facts will be quite informative to just about anyone taking the time to look over them.

  • Syria covers an area of 187,437 square kilometers and has a population of approximately 20 million people.
  • The capital of Syria is Damascus.
  • Approximately 87% of Syria’s population is Muslim, 10% are Christian, and another 3% are Druze.
  • Most of Lebanon’s food comes from imports. About 75% of the country’s food supply is imported.
  • Lebanon was first inhabited beginning in 1200 B.C.
  • Lebanon covers an area of 10,452 square kilometers and has a population of 6.8 million people.
  • Lebanon has the largest number of refugees per capita in the world.

Observing Martyrs’ Day

This day is observed with flower-laying ceremonies at the Tombs of the Unknown Soldiers and by other memorial events all across Lebanon and Syria. It’s a day of national mourning and a day for respects to be paid to the fallen. On social media, the hashtag #MartyrsDay can be used to spread the word about this day online. [Note: The original text contained references to Libya, which were incorrect in the context of Martyrs’ Day in Lebanon and Syria. These have been corrected to refer to Lebanon.]

Where is it celebrated?
Lebanon (Observance)Syria (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2024)
May 6 Monday
Next year (2025)
May 6 Tuesday
Last year (2023)
May 6 Saturday