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December 1, the day Great Romania was born

Romania’s National Day marks the country’s unification in 1918 and the formation of the Romanian state within its present-day boundaries. Romania’s full independence had been recognized in 1878 but it was not until December 1, 1918 in the city of Alba Iulia, when Romania – made of Moldova and Wallachia at the time – was united with Transylvania, Crisana, Banat and the Maramures area.

The history records that the delegates at the Great Assembly from Alba Iulia in December 1918 settled the latest details of the Great Union in a hotel whose name was “Hungaria” at that time. After the Union, the hotel’s name changed to “Dacia”, then to “Apulum”, and it was eventually demolished by the communists for it “was disturbing” the city’s extension plans.

Prior to 1948, the national holiday of Romania was set to be on May 10, which had a double meaning: it was the day on which Carol I set foot on the Romanian soil (in 1866), and it was the day on which the prince ratified the Declaration of Independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1877.

During communist regime, the date of the national holiday was set to August 23 to mark the 1944 overthrow of the pro- fascist government of Marshal Ion Antonescu.

National Day has been celebrated in Romania on December 1 since 1990, after the fall of the Romanian Communist Party.

Romania celebrates its National Day, also called 1918 Union Day, with military parades and public speeches given by national leaders in cities such as Bucharest and in Alba Iulia (the “union city”). Many people in Romania have the day off work and school and some usually take the opportunity to escape to the mountains resorts in search of snow and fun.

Romanians have always been attracted to parades, maybe it is “a specialism” inherited from the communist times, when they were sort of compelled to take part in the pompous communist parades meant to chant the supreme Communist Party and ruler Nicolae Ceausescu.

Now, there is no one compelling Romanians to take part in anything, but they are still set to attend military parades on National Day, even if only as spectators. And the past years have witnessed a larger and larger attendance at these parades, despite the cold typical to the first day of winter.

This year, over 2,600 military with 360 arsenal devices are expected to march at the military parade due on December 1 in Bucharest. The parade is scheduled in Constitutiei Square as of 11 a.m. If the weather allows it, there will be also aircrafts flashing across the sky.

At the same, as a first, this year’s parade in Bucharest will welcome two brigades that have never march on National Day before, with one consisting of injured military in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Alba Iulia, the city of the Great Union (the place where the Union of 1918 was sealed) is yet another destination for this long weekend ahead of us, a destination that is mixing the solemnity of the anniversary moment with leisure time and sightseeing. Thus, visitors who’ll venture at the heart of the country the upcoming days will be able to attend the military parade, can visit Alba Carolina Fortress, the Union Museum and the Union Hall.

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About Alina Grigoras Butu