Estonian Independence Day (iseseisvuspäev) is a public holiday in Estonia, always celebrated on February 24th.

This is Estonia’s National Day, marking the anniversary of the declaration founding the Republic of Estonia on this day in 1918.

On February 24th 1918, Estonia issued a declaration of independence from the new Soviet Russia, which was followed by a war with the Soviets to maintain Estonian liberty.

On February 2nd 1920, the war ended with the Tartu Peace Treaty which guaranteed Estonia’s independence for all time.

The Soviets went on to break this pact, however, and Estonia was under Soviet control for over 50 years.

In August 1939 Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. The pact’s secret protocol divided Eastern Europe into spheres of influence, with Estonia belonging to the Soviet sphere. During this time, the Soviet’s “Russification” policy meant the Estonian flag was forbidden, with Russian was made the country’s official language.

In 1991 Estonia re-established its sovereignty after the peaceful “Singing Revolution” against Soviet rule, which saw music used as a tool of resistance and a declaration of intent.

Estonians start their Independence Day at sunrise with the traditional flag-hoisting on Toompea, a hill in the capital, Tallinn, and in other Estonian towns in the morning and progress through the day with church services, the military parade in Freedom Square, an open-air free concert in central Tallinn, and the President’s reception in the evening.

The 103rd anniversary of the Republic of Estonia will be celebrated across the capital Tallinn with various events, such as public flag-raisings, open-air concerts and an opening of a new snow sculpture park.

Due to the coronavirus situation, large public events have not been organized this year in Tallinn. People are being asked to stay away from the flag-raising at Pikk Hermann at dawn and the president’s evening reception has been cancelled.

Diplomatic relations were established in October 1991. Bilateral relations between South Africa and Estonia have developed gradually. There are no contentious or outstanding political issues between the two countries.