Slovenia celebrates Independence and Unity Day on December 26 each year, the day when citizens voted to break away from the former Yugoslavia. The vote was actually held on December 23, 1990, but the results were made known three days later.
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History of the Holiday
Over 93 percent of the Slovenia citizens voted in the referendum regarding independence. Over 95 percent of those who voted approved of independence, representing 88 percent of all eligible voters. The vote allowed Slovenia to pass the Basic Constitutional Charter on Sovereignty and Independence on June 25, 1991. Until 2005, the holiday was known only as Independence Day. At the same time as the referendum to declare independence, a coalition of several parties won the first free multi-party elections in Slovenia, which further moved the country toward independence.
In 2005, Social Democrats who wanted to emphasise national unity during the referendum, proposed that the word be added to the name of the holiday as all political parties supported the independence of Slovenia. The name change also helped differentiate the holiday from Slovenia Statehood Day which is celebrated on June 25 which celebrates Slovenia’s actual independence.
The Weekend War
The Ten-Day War, which is often known as the Weekend War, occurred after the referendum that led to it – which was the first step in declaring independence in Slovenia. The war was fought between the Slovenian Territorial Defense and the Yugoslav People’s Army from June 27, 1991 until July 7, 1991. At the end of the war, the Brioni Accords were signed, leading to Slovenia’s official independence, which is celebrated on June 25.
Traditions and Celebrations
Independence and Unity Day is celebrated with a national ceremony with speeches, musical programs and readings of literature or poetry. Many events focus on the young in an effort to educate them on the importance of the day and to encourage unity in the country. Schools, colleges and businesses are closed on Independence and Unity Day in Slovenia. There is usually a large celebration at Republic Square in Ljubljana the capital of the country. Many Slovenian’s celebrate by participating in or watching folk dances or enjoying folk music. Slovenia history and culture is the main focus of the holiday so many people spend the day educating children and visitors about the rich history that exists in the country. Although Ljublijana is the central location for celebrations in honour of the holiday, cities and towns throughout the country hold their own parades and festivals.