From a historical point of view, the Grand Duchy has been independent, with a dynasty of its own, for only a relatively short period of time. During the 19th century, the Luxembourg people celebrated their national day on Kinnéksdag (the birthday of the King of the Netherlands).
The country’s first real national holiday in a patriotic sense was the Groussherzoginsgebuertsdag (the birthday of Grand Duchess Charlotte, who reigned from 1919 to 1964). Given that this day fell on 23 January, it was transferred in 1962 to a more summery date — 23 June.
Ever since Grand Duke Jean ascended the throne in 1964, 23 June has continued to be celebrated as the country’s national day.
In Luxembourg City, the capital, the festivities start on 22 June, the eve of National Day, with a solemn changing of the guard in front of the Grand Duke's palace at about 4 p.m.
While the Grand Duke and Duchess visit a different town in the Grand Duchy each year in the early evening, one member of the grand ducal family always visits the country's second most important city, Esch-sur-Alzette.
After a torchlight procession and fireworks launched from Thüngen Fort in the Trois Glands park, the partying starts in public areas all over the capital city, with concerts and DJs. Throughout the evening, the city is alive with happiness, fun and music: there are concerts on nearly every public square, with small bands or individual musicians playing.
On 23 June, in the morning, an official ceremony takes place at the Philharmonie Luxembourg, followed by a 21 gun salute from Fetschenhof. During the ensuing traditional ceremonial drill in the Avenue de la Liberté, HRH the Grand Duke and HRH the Hereditary Grand Duke inspect the troops, before attending a military and a civilian parade. A Te Deum is also held in Luxembourg City's Notre-Dame cathedral in the afternoon.
Every one of the country’s 105 municipalities also celebrates this day. The Te Deum is sung in the local churches, the mayor holds a patriotic speech in the presence of the assembled citizens and members of local clubs, and the Order of Merit is conferred on musicians and firefighters. Following which the representatives of the municipality's political establishment and its clubs and associations retire to a local restaurant for a 'democratic banquet'.