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Union of the Romanian Principalities

Union of the Romanian Principalities 2019 and 2020

Romania recently established a new public holiday called “Union of the Romanian Principalities”. It is also known as Unification Day and sometimes called Small Union Day to distinguish it from National Day, which is also called Great Union Day.

Year Date Day Holiday
2019 24 Jan Thu Union of the Romanian Principalities
2020 24 Jan Fri Union of the Romanian Principalities

Unification Day is celebrated in Romania every 24 January to commemorate the union of the two “Danubian Principalities” of Wallachia and Moldavia in 1862. This marked the beginning of the modern state of Romania. National Day, on the other hand, celebrates the addition of Transylvania and some other provinces to form a larger union on 1 December 1918.

Wallachia and Moldavia had existed as independent nations or subjugated regions since the 14th Century A.D. They were long a conflict zone between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, to which they were annexed for centuries. In 1821, Russia seized eastern Moldavia from Turkish control. This area later became the modern state of Moldova on Romania’s eastern border.

In the 1840s, there were some attempts to unite Wallachia and Moldavia, but they all failed. Things changed in 1856, when the two principalities became independent from the Ottoman Empire in all but name. The Treaty of Paris, signed after the Crimean War, allowed only for a “minimal formal union with two separate thrones” for the two provinces. However, Romanians capitalised on the fact that the treaty did not specify two different princes had to occupy those two different thrones.

In 1859, both Moldavia and Wallachia elected Alexander Ioan Cuza as their common ruler. On 24 January 1862, the two nations were formally united, and in 1866, the new name “Romania” was adopted. A new constitution was also adopted in 1866, further strengthening the union. Finally, in 1877 to 1878, Romania was victorious is declaring and winning full independence from the Ottoman Empire.