While the coronavirus pandemic has put a dampener on things, October 26th in Austria usually sees the unfurling of flags and a number of celebrations.
What is Austrian National Day?
October 26th, 2020, marks the 65th year of Austrian National Day. It is however only the 55th year the day has been a holiday, as it was only designated as such in 1965.
The day has been celebrated since 1955, when Austria signed its so-called Declaration of Perpetual Neutrality (more on why this happened later).
Here's the Declaration of Neutrality.
Perpetual Neutrality: “For the purpose of the permanent assertion of its independence externally and for the purpose of the inviolability of its territory, Austria freely declares its perpetual neutrality. Austria will maintain and defend this with all means at its disposal.”
It included a commitment that “Austria will not join any military alliances and will not permit the establishment of any foreign military bases on her territory”.
The Declaration was enacted on October 26th, 1955 – and the day has been celebrated in Austria since.
Why Austrian National Day?
After the end of the Second World War, Austria – along with the capital of Vienna – was jointly occupied by the Allied forces of France, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union.
While Austrians welcomed the end of the war, over time they grew tired of the Allied occupation.
As has been written by the Austrian Embassy in Washington, the Austrian parliament had little control over major affairs.
“Although the Austrian parliament was democratically elected, every legislative regulation or political action of the government at first required consent by the Allied Control Council and later on could still be vetoed by it.”
It was not until 1955 when the Austrian State Treaty was signed, handing power of the country back over to Austria.
Einen schönen Nationalfeiertag, Österreich! ??
Happy National Day, Austria! ??
— EU Social ?? (@EU_Social) October 26, 2020
What did Austria celebrate before 1955?
From 1946 to 1954, Austria celebrated Liberation Day on April 13th, commemorating the end of the Second World War.
(In normal times) what happens on Austrian National Day?
Other than the hoisting of what feels like 100 flags for every resident, the Federal Government celebrates the day with a number of events. According to the Austrian Embassy in Washington, this includes the following:
“The Federal President honours the victims of resistance and lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“New recruits of the Austrian Armed Forces are sworn in.
“The Council of Ministers holds a festive meeting.
“The Federal President addresses the population in a “State of the Union”-styled speech on TV.
“Open houses are held at the Office of the Federal President, the Federal Chancellery, ministries and other public institutions.”
Museums usually offer free entry and Austrian embassies all over the world hold events.