Statehood Day in Lithuania, also known as King Mindaugas’ Day, is an annual Lithuanian celebration and public holiday that is held each year on July 6th.
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The holiday is designed to celebrate the coronation of Mindaugas in 1253. Mindaugas was the first King to be crowned in Lithuania as well as the only King to be had in the country. While the exact date of the celebration has been historically in much debate, the day of July 6th was finally chosen based on a hypothesis developed in 1989. As a result, King Mindaugas’ Day (or Statehood Day in Lithuania) has been celebrated since 1991.
The History Behind King Mindaugas’ Day
Part of why the official date for King Mindaugas’ Day has been in such debate is because little is actually known about Mindaugas. What is known is he was born some time around 1203. He was also the first Grand Duke of Lithuania to become known. Across the Slavic and Baltic regions during the 1230s and 1240s, Mindaugas began building his power. Mindaugas then sought baptism by the Roman Catholic church. He gave up certain lands in present-day Lithunia for the sole purpose of receiving blessings as king from Pope Innocent IV. Since the exact coronation of Mindaugas is unknown, July 6th is assumed as the date now based on a hypothesis created by Edvardas GudaviÄius, a modern Lithuanian historian.
Mindaugas’ move to be baptised helped him create an alliance with what was known as the Livonian Order. Crowned the summer of 1253 alongside his wife Morta, King Mindaugas ruled somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 people. The ecclesiastical ceremonies at the time were overseen by Bishop Henry Heidenreich of Kulm. Similarly, the crown was conferred by Andreas Stirland. Following the coronation, peace predominantly held int he area for about eight years. This is the time Mindaugas chose to focus on expanding his power to the east. He created state institutions which helped to strengthen his influence in areas such as Black Ruthenia and Polatsk. He negotiated with Galicia-Volhynia. All in all, Mindaugas had a very interesting role as being the only person in the history of Lithuania to have such a title.
How to Celebrate Statehood Day in Lithuania
On July 6th of every year, Lithuania acknowledges Statehood Day, or King Mindaugas’ Day. If you are going to be traveling in Lithuania during this time, you should be aware of any potential closure on this date that might interfere with your travel plans. If you plan to partake in the festivities, then you will be pleasantly surprised. Traditionally, ceremonies begin by raising the flag in the square near what is called the Presidential Palace in Vilnius. This even is followed by a mass and then by an official dinner. Most of the festivities will be celebrated in this particular place in the city of Vilnius, but here are some other important things you should know about this holiday and the ways in which Lithuanians like to celebrate:
- If you’re able to join the festivities in Vilnius, be sure to see the flag raising and possibly stay for a feast.
- Lithuania is full of unique dance and song, so be sure to check out some performances on this day.
- Classic Lithuanian food is based on its cold and moist climate, so expect lots of potato dishes, rye breads, and borscht.
While King Mindaugas’ Day might cause you some delays in your travel, it will open up the opportunity to learn more about Lithuanian history and culture, so enjoy!