Ukraine marks Unity Day on January 22, the day when the Ukrainian People's Republic (UPR) and the West Ukrainian People's Republic (WUPR) signed the Unification Act in 1919.
The holiday was officially established in 1999, taking into account the great political and historical significance of the unification of the UPR and WUPR for the formation of the united Ukrainian state.
The Unification Act crowned the unity aspirations of Ukrainians at least since the middle of the 19th century. This was a fundamental event for Ukrainian statehood.
On August 24, 1991, the Act of Declaration of Independence of Ukraine was adopted at an extraordinary meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. It was supported by Ukrainians at a nationwide referendum on December 1, 1991. This event became the starting point in the history of modern Ukrainian statehood. However, historians rightly point out that Ukraine's state independence was actually restored on August 24, 1991.
On January 22, 1918, the Universal of the Central Rada proclaimed the independence of the Ukrainian People's Republic. A year later, on January 22, 1919, the Act of Unification of Ukrainian lands into united Ukraine was declared on Sofiyska Square in Kyiv. UPR and WUPR, established after the collapse of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires, formed the united Ukrainian state.
However, the unification of Ukraine was purely symbolic. A few weeks after the proclamation of the Unification Act, the Bolsheviks seized Kyiv, the Poles later occupied Eastern Galicia, and Czechoslovakia took control of Transcarpathia.
The first celebration of unity took place on January 22, 1939, in Carpatho-Ukraine (the town of Khust), then the autonomous region within the Second Czechoslovak Republic. On that day, 30,000 people arrived in the capital of Carpatho-Ukraine from all parts of the region to hold a manifestation under blue and yellow flags and recall the events of 20 years ago.
A vivid example of unity, the Ukrainian people's commitment to freedom was a human chain formed by the patriotic forces on January 21, 1990, to mark the 71st anniversary of the proclamation of the Unification Act. Millions of Ukrainians were holding hands from Kyiv to Lviv, celebrating Unity Day.
Since then, Ukraine has seen human chains on a number of occasions, symbolizing the unity of the Ukrainian people. Unity Day is now celebrated at the state level every year.