The celebration of the 26 of October as the Austrian National Day dates back to the birth of the 2nd Republic after WW II.
After the end of the War, Austria was occupied by the four Allied forces (Soviet Union, United States, Great Britain, and France), who divided the country into four zones. An Austrian government was democratically elected with the consent of the Allied forces, but every legislative regulation or political action still required their consent.
The negotiations over a State Treaty putting an end to this occupation could finally be concluded in the spring of 1955: the Austrian State Treaty was signed on 15 May 1955 in Vienna's Schloß Belvedere and entered into force on July 27, 1955.
October 26 marks the day that followed the day on which the last remaining foreign troops left Austrian territory; therefore, October 26 is de facto the first day on which Austria had regained its status as an independent and sovereign state. Since Austria's neutrality was the condition upon which the Sowjet Union had agreed to the signing of the State Treaty, the Austrian Parliament also chose this very special day to pass the law on permanent neutrality to highlight the fact that it represented a unilateral and independent decision.
Every year, the Federal Government celebrates this day with a series of events in Vienna:
- The Federal President and the Federal Minister of Defense attend a celebration at Heldenplatz ("Hero Square").
- The Federal President puts down a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Burgtor.
- The Council of Ministers holds a festive meeting.
- The government attends a Concert for Austria at the Vienna Staatsoper.
- The new recruits of the Austrian Armed Forces are sworn in.
The citizens have the possibility of visiting the federal museums for free that day. Various institutions also open their doors to the public (ie. the Federal Chancellery). All over the country, so called "marches for fitness" are organized to raise the population's awareness about the benefits of exercise and physical fitness.
Austrian Embassies around the world celebrate the Austrian National Day by hosting a number of different events for Austrian citizens.