BackgroundOn May 28th in 1918 the Armenian National Council declared Armenia an independent nation and declared itself Armenia’s temporary government, marking the start of First Republic Day in Armenia.
After becoming independent from the Ottoman Empire in 1915, Armenia fell to the Russians. During the Russian Revolution in 1917 a Bolshevik government came to power and Armenia’s allies, Georgia and the Muslims did not agree with what the government was doing. In reaction to this Georgia declared Independence on 26 May 1918 and the Muslim National Council declared the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan on May 27th. The Armenian National Council was left abandoned by its regional allies so decided to declare Independence on May 28th 1918.
Armenia is a small republic in western Asia. It borders Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran and its capital city is Yerevan which is home to around 1.1 million people. It has one of the longest and richest histories of any country, situated on the Great Silk Road and being one of the first Christian civilizations. Throughout history Armenia has been part of Byzantine, Ottoman, Persian and Mongol empires. Mount Ararat is seen as a national symbol of Armenia, with its image on the national emblem, however due to border shifts during World War I, the mountain now belongs to Turkey.
Although this initial independence was short lived, lasting only 2 years and 6 months, Armenians take pride in the sliver of independence they had at the beginning of the 20th Century. Celebrations of this holiday were forbidden during Soviet times but since the end of the Soviet Union, the holiday has been celebrated with gusto. The streets are decorated with Armenia’s national colors of red, blue and orange and Armenians traditionally spend the day with family and friends while eating Khash – a traditional Armenian dish made with the hooves, shin bones and the stomach of a cow. The President and other government officials raise the national flag at the President’s palace in Yerevan and the day is seen as an opportunity for government opposition to protest outside the palace.
In 2015 the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, along with important officials and guests, took part in a Republic day celebration at Sardarapat Memorial in Yerevan. He laid a wreath at the memorial in memory of all the soldiers who died in conflicts geared towards Armenia’s independence and the end of the Soviet Union. After this a military parade took place and the President greeted its participants to congratulate them on Republic Day. He then watched a concert celebrating the best of Armenian culture. Following the concert he visited the National Museum of Armenian Ethnography and History of the Liberation Struggle where an awards ceremony took place dedicated to Republic Day. Awards were presented to important Armenians from the fields of science, education, economy, health care, culture, arts and sports. Representatives from the diaspora of the country, as well as a group of Armenian army servicemen were awarded state decorations and titles as well.