Always celebrated on 16 February, this holiday marks the act of independence from Germany in 1918. This holiday is Lithuania's National Day.
Under King Mindaugas, Lithuania emerged as a state in the 13th century and by the 18th century Lithuania had become part of the Russian Empire. During the first world war, the country was occupied by German troops as they advanced towards Russia.
Following the Russian revolution in 1917, Germany encouraged Lithuanians to determine their future, in the hope they would prefer a union with Germany rather than Russia. Germany supported the establishment of a Council of Lithuania who would decide on Lithuania's future.
Against the wishes of Germany, the Council of Lithuania decided not to align their natiion with either Germany or Russia and instead signed the Act of Independence of Lithuania on 16 February 1918. The act proclaimed the restoration of an independent and democratic State of Lithuania, with Vilnius as its capital.
Not surprisingly the publication of the Act was prohibited by the German authorities. It was only when Germany was defeated in November 1918, that the first Cabinet of Lithuania was formed and the council gained control of Lithuania.
Photos courtesy of: David Harangozo, Photo Editor, Diplomacy & Trade