The Appeal of Nationhood: National Celebrations and Commemorations

This chapter will discuss more about the phenomenon regarding a nation’s persistence. It focuses on the identity of a nation as well as how a nation was built and who is the society of that nation. The most important point that needs to be highlighted is the word symbol. Symbolism is a concern and a matter in the community of a nation. As symbolism represents subjective theoretical framework, boundaries, and values of a nation itself. Those symbols include flags, statues, festivals, rituals, capitals, icons, and other significant item which truly represents a nation.

Symbols and national ceremonies provide us a powerful evidence regarding the persistence of nations and the appeal of nationhood. While the national day is used to glorify the nation as well as maintaining the nations and national identities.


National Days in the European context are a mix of national and state elements. It refers to the community, mythology, and symbolism of nation, also is often the result of negotiations to establish continuity to increase collective experience.

Its role is as the core of nation-building and its significant element of nationhood. Ceremonial and Commemoration Days are formed in order to honour particular important political or historical events. Some are peaceful, some are military. The celebration varies from parades to carnivals and ranged between who’s giving the speech and who is participating.

National Celebrations Around the World

National celebrations will never fade as it is the main activity in each country that will gain participation of its people to remember any kinds of historical background or national appreciation that keeps their country survive the suffer during the rough days before until they finally reached the point to be an independent state.

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In this paper, we will take you around Europe to see what are the well-known national celebrations that has a very deep lesson behind it. First, we’ll rewind some history from the Great Britain when Gambetta and Amalvi both came to the same agreement stating that the day Bastille was taken was the day they challenged their Catholic church and made the nation their main ruler of governance and that the celebration of Bastille day also challenges the formerly exclusive church celebrations and bringing them to the public as well for them to enjoy. In fact, the national day of France originates from the storming of the Bastille in the year of 1789. French national day date is no 14 July and during its anniversary hundred years ago, government representatives and citizens gathered and declared their support to a brand-new government system and not to mention they took a part in the Fête de la Fédération.

During the 1880, French national day became an official holiday of the French to remember both the taking Bastille and Fête de la Fédération, with Bastille changing into the national day of France. The celebrations include dedicating statues, holding parades to remember the important events in history and torchlight processions. As time passes, the French now celebrate their official national day by doing military parades to remember the strength of their sovereignty and defense, this will attract the attention in national, regional and international level. Other than celebration, French also decide the color of their national flag which has every meaning behind each color (Blue: Bourgeois, White: Clergy, Red: Nobility) and their national anthem

“Marseillaise” to be add as their national symbols in the present time. Let us move on to one of the Scandinavian countries in Europe, Norway.

Before the constitution day exist in Norway, it had been united to Sweden in 1319 as well as Norway and Denmark are a single unified state in 1380. There was this treaty called “The treaty of Kiel” that changed all of the dependence of Norway towards both countries. The Independence Day of Norway itself resulted from the National Assembly in April 1814 where it provides Norway with its own constitution, there are nothing else besides objections in the struggle of Norway’s independence and at last, the various political groupings united and resulted powerful nationalistic movement, to restore Norway’s former glory. From that point, the independence of Norway as a single state pushes Norwegian to keep on showing their identity by the national celebration. People from different parts in Norway participate themselves in this celebration, the main place to hold the constitution day is in Karl Johan Avenue but other Norwegians who live in a small town and villages are also participating to show their appreciation towards their country.

Back to the first world war, where the armed forces of commonwealth member states died in the line of duty and this leads to the Memorial Day in United Kingdom of those great heroes, and it’s called remembrance Sunday. Remembrance Sunday itself was replaced with the cenotaph ceremony in 1921 to honour all British and Commonwealth servicemen and women who died in armed conflicts among states. The cenotaph ceremony is different from Bastille and Constitution day because it was transformed the victory parade from a moment of high politics into a manifestation where millions could contemplate the reality of death in a war. Following the tradition inaugurated by King George V in 1919, war remembrance in many commonwealth countries is also marked in this day. Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November in most countries to recall the end of hostilities of First World War on that date in 1918. Remembrance Day explains us that the British is showing their highest gratitude towards the struggles of hero during the old days and that they are more than proud of the historical background of their country so that they finally consider it as one of the symbols of their national identity.


The aim of national celebration and commemoration is to reinforce and sustain the beliefs of a group and revive group identity. Generally speaking, the essence of national ceremonies is to create awareness and manifest values of the community.

The persistence of symbols and ceremonies over time suggests that the nation is regarded as a sacred category, set apart from mundane activity. Therefore, national symbols and national ceremonies can be seen as an indication of the strength of national identity. Besides that, national symbols and ceremonies also facilitate social life by creating and reinforcing social values.


  1. Young, Eric, et al. Nationalism in a Global Era: the persistence of nations. London : Routledge, 2007

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The Appeal of Nationhood: National Celebrations and Commemorations. (2022, Aug 03). Retrieved from

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