Although the modern state of Macedonia only came into existence with the breakup of Yugoslavia, Ilinden Day has been celebrated in Macedonia since 1944 and has its roots as far back as 1903. Its date, 2 August, is the day in 1903 that Macedonians rose up against the Ottoman Empire to briefly establish a republic.
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Ilinden day is also called “Republic Day”, but its meaning in the Macedonian tongue refers to Saint Elijah Day. For it was on the religious holiday of Saint Elijah Day that the uprising took place.
In 1944, Communist insurgents opposing the Nazis set up a council that met to try to establish a Macedonian state. They laid down such principles as the official status of the Macedonian language, equal civil and religious freedoms for all, and even the eventual national anthem. The ASNOM Memorial Centre, located in the town of Pelince, documents the actions of the 1944 council.
There are religious ceremonies at many monasteries in Macedonia on Ilinden Day. And there will also be a symbolic ride of cavalry from Skopje to Krusevo, the place where the leaders of the 1903 revolution set up their short-lived republic. Krusevo is also the spot where a battle was fought against Ottoman forces.