Bulgarian Armed Forces Day (Bulgarian: Ден на българските въоръжени сили) is a national holiday celebrated annually on May 6, commemorating the Bulgarian Armed Forces. The event is marked by military parades, fireworks and ceremonies across the country.
|Bulgarian Armed Forces Day|
|Official name||Ден на българските въоръжени сили|
|Also called||Bravery Day|
|Celebrations||Military parades, ceremonies|
|Next time||6 May 2019|
On 22 July 1878, 12 battalions of volunteer units who had participated in war, formed the Bulgarian Armed Forces. May 6 was officially pronounced as the Day of the Bulgarian Army in 1880. It became banned during the communist period but was reinstated in 1998.
The celebrations marked 5 years since Bulgaria's accession to NATO in 2004 and was the largest armed forces day celebration since it's revival as a national holiday in the 1990s. It also marked the first time foreign troops took part in the annual parade, with the Hellenic Naval Band, the Central Military Band of the Ministry of Defense of Russia and the United States Sixth Fleet Band taking part in the parade.
The celebrations were the largest since 2009, with more than 1,300 military personnel, aircraft and armoured vehicles being involved in the parade. The Bulgarian Air Force’s MiG-29 jet fighters, SU-25s, Mi-17 and Cougar helicopters and other aircraft took part in the parade.
Macedonian troops took part in the festivities for the first time. This was also the first time the representative military bands of the Bulgarian Army, Air Force and Navy took part in the parade with the Representative Brass Band of the National Guards Unit of Bulgaria.
As Armed Forces Day is the national military holiday of Bulgaria the celebrations in Sofia thus serve as a national event to mark the holiday. The celebrations officially begin at 9am with the laying of flowers at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier by President of Bulgaria and members of government. The celebrations then continue as the parade commander (The commander is usually a Major General or Rear Admiral of the Armed Forces) arrives to take his place in the parade and receives the salutes of the Commandant, Georgi Rakovski Military Academy, reporting on the readiness of the formations at the Prince Alexander of Battenberg Square. At 10am, after a fanfare is sounded by the Guards Band of the National Guards Unit or/and the other bands within the Massed Bands of the Sofia Garrison, the President arrives and the parade commander marches towards him, informing that the parade is now ready for inspection. He then inspects the band and upon reaching the color guard of the National Guards Unit, he then pays compliments to the Flag of Bulgaria and to the massed military colours. He then inspects each of the participating parade contingents, stopping each time to greet each of the formed troops and as the inspection ends, he then approaches a makeshift saluting base at the National Art Gallery where after a fanfare has been sounded, he then makes his holiday address to the nation.
As the address concludes the parade commander shouts
To the glorious Bulgarian Armed Forces... Oorah!
While the entire parade responses with a long Oorah!, the Band then sounds the final measures of the Armed Forces Hymn Great are our Soldiers, and as the parade presents arms, Mila Rodino is then played with a 21-gun salute. The parade is then ordered to order arms and to stand at ease, and afterwards the parade marches off the square in preparation for the march past as a Bulgarian Air Force helicopter commences the flypast carrying the national flag. The drummers of the massed bands beat a cadence as the parade marches off the square, reforming at its southern end for the march past to begin later on led by the parade commander.