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Independence Day of Lithuania

When is the Independence Day of Lithuania Celebrated?
Unlike other countries, Lithuania became independent on two separate occasions. Lithuania first declared itself from Czarist Russia on February 16, 1918. They remained an independent nation till 1940, when the erstwhile Soviet Union annexed it. After remaining under Soviet Union for almost 50 years, the Republic of Lithuania became independent once again in 1990. February 16 each year is celebrated as the Independence Day of Lithuania.

How is Independence Day celebrated in Lithuania?
Independence Day is celebrated in grand style in Lithuania. All the major cities organize festivities, public speeches, and parades, and other state-sponsored events. Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, holds public shows at the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theater. The cathedral Square also organizes concerts, which are free for the public.

What does the national flag of Lithuania represent?
The national flag of Lithuania consists of three horizontal strips – yellow, green, and red. Yellow represents the golden fields of Lithuania, green represents the lush green countryside, and red represents all the blood that has been shed for Lithuania. The national flag was adopted on March 20, 1989, almost two years before Lithuania declared its independence from Soviet Union. An earlier lighter version of this flag was in place from 1918 to 1940, but it was changed once the Soviet Union annexed Lithuania in 1940.

Who composed the national anthem of Lithuania?
The national anthem of Lithuania has an interesting history. “Tautiška giesmė” — the Lithuanian national anthem was first composed as a 50-word poem by their famous poet, Vincas Kudirka, in 1898. He also composed the music for this poem. During that period, Lithuania was part of Czarist Russia. It was first performed in 1905 in Saint Petersburg and in 1918, when Lithuania became independent from Czarist Russia, it became the national anthem of Lithuania. Following Soviet Union’s occupation of Lithuania in 1940, “Tautiška giesmė” was banned and people were forbidden to sing it. Within a few years, a new national anthem was created. In 1990, when Lithuania once again declared independence from the Soviet Republic, “Tautiška giesmė” once again became the national anthem of Lithuania.

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