The National Day is a designated date on which celebrations mark the nationhood of a nation or non-sovereign country. This nationhood can be symbolized by the date of independence, of becoming republic or a significant date for a patron saint or a ruler (birthday, accession, removal, etc.). Often the day is not called "National Day" but serves and can be considered as one. The National Day will often be a national holiday.
Some countries have more than one National Day. For example, Pakistan has three National Days, none of which is named the ”National Day”. This signals the use of a ”class” of National Days, that are equally important in the foundation of the nation, and a ”class” of less important official public holidays.
Importance attached to the National Day as well as the degree to which it is celebrated vary greatly from country to country. For example, Spain's National Day Fiesta Nacional de España is held on 12 October, the day celebrated in other countries as Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, and commemorates the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas. A military parade is held in Madrid celebrating the occasion. National Day in France is 14 July and known as the Fête nationale (known outside of France as Bastille Day) commemorating the Storming of the Bastille, which is considered the start of the French Revolution. It is widely celebrated and the French Tricolour is much in evidence, while the President of the Republic attends a military parade on the Champs-Élysées of Paris. In the United States, the Independence Day celebrations on 4 July are widely celebrated with parades, fireworks, picnics and barbecues. In Ireland, Saint Patrick's Day, 17 March, has been the National Day and a Public Holiday for many years. However, in the United Kingdom the constituent countries' patron saints' days are low-key affairs. In recent times campaigns have commenced to promote the National Days of England, Scotland and Wales, with St. Andrew's Day being designated as an official bank holiday when the Scottish Parliament passed the St Andrew's Day Bank Holiday (Scotland) Act 2007. A National Day for the United Kingdom has also been proposed in recent years.
Most countries have a fixed date National Day, but some have movable dates. An example here is Jamaica, which up to 1997 celebrated its National Day on the first Monday in August. This commemorated independence from the United Kingdom which was attained on Monday, 6 August 1962, the first Monday in August of that year. Another example is Thailand which celebrates the birthday of the king on 5 December. This date will change on the accession of the heir to the throne.
Most national days can be categorized in two large blocks:
- Newer countries that celebrate their national day as the day of their independence.
- Older countries that use some other event of special significance as their national day.
Denmark and the United Kingdom are among the few countries that do not have designated national days.
Famous quotes containing the words national and/or day:
“The signs look better. The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea. Thanks to the great North-West for it. Nor yet wholly to them.... The job was a great national one.”
—Abraham Lincoln (18091865)
“The LORD went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.”
—Bible: Hebrew, Exodus 13:21,22.