Andorra la Vella, 8 September 2023 (TDI): Andorra, a small principality in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain, celebrates its National Day on September 8th annually.

This day holds historical significance as it commemorates both Lady of Meritxell, the country’s patron saint, and the establishment of the principality in 1278.

On this special occasion, Andorrans enjoy a day off, with educational institutions, businesses, and government offices remaining closed.

The festivities include a variety of events that add to the festive atmosphere. These events often begin with religious services at the Santuari de Meritxell sanctuary, paying homage to Our Lady of Meritxell.

A concert and an illuminated torch procession are also part of the celebration. Families and friends come together to savor traditional Andorran cuisine, including dishes like Escudella, Trucha a la Andorana, and Crema Andorran.

The historical context of Andorra’s National Day dates back to the early 9th century when Emperor Charlemagne reclaimed the region from Muslim rule. Eventually, the Spanish bishop of Urgell and a French prince jointly ruled Andorra.

Exterior of the Santuari de Meritxell, in the parish of Canillo, a reference of Andorran architecture in conjunction with nature

On September 8th, 1278, the first constitutional document of Andorra was signed, laying the foundation for its governance. Although the country later adopted a parliamentary system in the 1990s, the significance of this historical date endures.

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Andorra, despite not being a European Union member, uses the euro as its currency, and it has a special relationship with the EU.

Xavier Espot Zamora serves as the Prime Minister, and his government has implemented significant reforms, including legalizing political parties and trade unions, protecting freedom of religion and assembly, and revising criteria for obtaining citizenship.

The Catalan culture plays a dominant role in Andorra, with Catalan as the primary language.

Catalan cuisine, influenced by French, Spanish, and Portuguese elements, features dishes like “Pa-amb tomaquet,” “Calcots,” “Botifarra,” “Escudella,” “Fideua,” and “Mel I Mato.”

Andorra la Vella’s Cultural Diversity Week

The population enthusiastically participates in Catalan festivals, such as “La Merce,” “Our Lady of Meritxell Day,” “Revetlla de Sant Joan,” and “Pasqua Festival.”

Overall, Andorra’s National Day is a celebration that honors both its patron saint and its historical roots, bringing together the diverse cultural and culinary traditions that define this picturesque principality in the heart of the Pyrenees Mountains.