Held for over a century, mostly on 15 August, Romania’s Navy Day was put under the high patronage of the Romanian Royal Family in 1912, has kept its continuity throughout WW II. Starting 1954, the feast became yet another occasion for the Romanian Communist Party to spread its propaganda. After the fall of the regime, celebrations, which have Constanta as their epicentre, have reestablished the link between Navy Day and the feast day of the Assumption of Mary, protector of seamen everywhere.
First celebrated in 1902, Navy Day was held on 15 August to give more meaning to the celebrations that gathered large audiences in cities located nearby waters. Constanta, locked on the Black Se, as the biggest port in the country, has since attracted large scale activities such as parades, demonstrations, concerts and more.
On the day, acording to tradition, the military and commercial vessels that entered the Romanian fleet would get baptised in the presence of large audiences.
According to a message sent in 1902 by the mayor of Constanta to mayors of nearby localities, the day was celebrated via balls and processions of allegorical cars. “On the occasion of the celebration of the 15th of August – Saint Mary feast – the patron of the Navy, in Constanta, on land and on the water, there will be regattas, running competitions, Venetian evenings, a grand ball on the water, allegorical cars,” he said. That year, documents show, the cars illustrated the discovery of America, the shipwreck of Medusa, the ship of the Argonauts and more.
Starting 1912, when the Royal family became the patron of the day, the royals became a fixture of the festivities taking place in Constanta. They would greet the seamen as well as the large crowds, that would travel from Bucharest on trains for the day. While by day thy could watch regattas, and mock naval battles, among others, in the evenings, they would be treated to venetian evenings, concerts, dances and fireworks.
During WWI and WWII, the celebrations took a somber note. If on 15 August 1918 the festivities were dedicated to raise funds for war orphans, in 1945 members of the Allied Commission of Control attended the activities.
Between 1949-1953, Navy Day became a celebration of the fleet of the USSR. The date was moved from 15 August to the last Sunday of July, with the purpose to dissociate Navy Day from the religious feast. Starting the 1960’s the day became yet another occasion for the Romanian Communist Party to highlight its values and reinforce its propaganda in the public sphere.
After the regime was toppled in the aftermath of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989, the link between the two celebrations was reestablished and Navy Day a continues to be a popular celebration that attracts large crowds.
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