Orangemen parading in Bangor, 12 July 2010
|Also called||Orangemen's Day|
|Observed by||Orange Order and many Northern Irish Protestants|
|Significance||Celebration of the Glorious Revolution (1688) and victory of William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne (1690)|
|Celebrations||Parading, bonfires, erecting flags and bunting.|
|Related to||The Eleventh Night|
The Twelfth (also called the Glorious Twelfth or Orangemen's Day) is an Ulster Protestant celebration held on 12 July. It began during the late 18th century in Ulster. It celebrates the Glorious Revolution (1688) and victory of Protestant king William of Orange over Catholic king James II at the Battle of the Boyne (1690), which began the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. On and around the Twelfth, large parades are held by the Orange Order and Ulster loyalist marching bands, streets are bedecked with British flags and bunting, and large towering bonfires are lit. Today the Twelfth is mainly celebrated in Northern Ireland (where it is a public holiday), but smaller celebrations are held in other parts of the world where Orange lodges have been set up. The Twelfth involves thousands of participants and spectators.
In Ulster, where about half the population is from a Protestant background and half from a Catholic background, the Twelfth has been accompanied by violence since its beginning. Many Catholics and Irish nationalists see the Orange Order and its marches as sectarian, triumphalist and supremacist. The Order is also politically a unionist/loyalist organisation.
Violence related to the Twelfth in Northern Ireland worsened during the 30-year ethno-political conflict known as the Troubles. The Drumcree conflict is the most well-known dispute involving Orange marches. Attempts have recently been made to downplay the political aspects of the marches and present the Twelfth as a cultural, family-friendly event at which tourists are welcome. Although most events pass off peacefully, some continue to result in violence.
When 12 July falls on a Sunday, the parades are held on the 13th instead.
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