Serbians celebrate Statehood Day

Serbians are marking Statehood Day, commemorating two important events from the first half of the 19th century, instrumental in the renewal of the state.

Source: B92, Beta, Tanjug

The Orthodox holiday of Candlemas (Sretenje) was in 1804 chosen as a date to launch the First Serbian Uprising against the occupying Turks, and in 1835, to declare the country's first Constitution.

Friday and Saturday are non-working days in Serbia, while celebrations started on Thursday with special classes dedicated to the holiday in all schools, and a gun-salute at the Belgrade Fortress.

The Serbian parliament today held a ceremonial session, that was addressed by President Tomislav Nikolić.

Top state officials placed wreaths at the Tomb to the Unknown Soldier on Mt. Avala, near Belgrade, and attended ceremonies in historic Oplenac and Orašac in central Serbia.

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On Thursday evening, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Belgrade Stanislav Hočevar served holy mass dedicated to the blessing and prosperity of Serbia, attended by the president and Crown Prince Aleksandar Karađorđević, among others.

Serbian officials have received messages congratulating the holiday from Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, and from the prime ministers of Russia, Turkey, Hungary, Bulgaria and the Serb Republic (RS).

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also sent a message on behalf of the U.S. president.

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