Happy Armenian Independence Day!! Okay, so I’m a couple days late, but it’s close enough. Armenian Independence Day is celebrated on September 21st each year. In 1991, that’s the day when Armenia held a vote on a referendum to declare independence from the Soviet Union. The decision was an overwhelming yes, with about 95% of eligible voters participating in the vote and 99% voting yes.
This vote didn’t actually change anything. It just meant that Armenia was going to start going through the not-so-defined process of petitioning the Soviet Union for independence… so basically the same as Independence Day in the USA. It’s just the day when the people decided they were free.
Luckily for Armenia, they didn’t have to fight a war to achieve independence. The Soviet Union collapsed just a few months later, and on December 26, 1991, the second Republic of Armenia became a reality.
“The second republic?” you ask? Yes, the first Republic of Armenia existed for a solid three years, from 1918 until 1921 when it became part of the Soviet Union. “Republic Day” aka the first Armenian Independence Day is celebrated on May 28th each year.
You might be wondering how people celebrate. Like at home, Independence Day is celebrated with a lot of flag apparel, parades, barbecues, and fireworks. Here… well, I lived through it, and I still couldn’t tell you exactly. It seems to me like something different happens every year. Last year was the 25th anniversary, so that was probably a bigger deal than this year.
We did at least get off from work, but beyond that, I’m not completely sure. I assume that maybe there was information somewhere on the internet but that I couldn’t find it because it was in Armenian? I don’t know. We wandered around a bit trying to see if anything was happening, and besides some vendors set up around Swan Lake and random hordes of teenagers wandering the streets and painting Armenian flags on people’s faces, there wasn’t much.
There were rumors floating around that some march or something was going to start from Republic Square at 7PM, so we went, and all we saw were like 30 people on mildly decorated bicycles who rode out of the square at 7. We thought that maybe they were the beginning of the parade or whatever it was, but it would appear that they were it. Hm. A little later, there were some fireworks for maybe 5 minutes that I think were set off from Republic Square (but maybe not) and then, of course, every Aram-shmaram (that’s my Armenian version of Joe-shmo) has some fireworks of his own, so those were randomly going off throughout the night.
In conclusion, who knows what happened, but I came out of it with a day off of work, a tri-color headband, and a sugar high from too much ice cream. Success.