Student Protest '96 - '97
January 6th, 1997
The students organized with the Patriarch for him to hold a Christmas liturgy at the St. Sava church in Belgrade for the students and citizens. Thousands of people gathered at the Plato at nine o'clock in order to walk to the church, which is about 35 minutes walking.
Several hundred thousand Belgraders were gathered also last night at Church of St. Sava Church in Belgrade to celebrate the Orthodox Christmas Eve. Head of the Serbian Church, Patriarch Pavle addressed the crowd and wished them well, saluting them with "the ancient greeting used by our ancestors: God's Peace, Christ Is Born." He then proceeded to light the oak branches, which are the traditional Serbian equivalent of the Yule log.
Although they appeared together with the Patriarch, Zajedno leaders and the leaders of the Student Protest did not address the crowds. The majority of those attending were participants of Zajedno rallies and student protests. He wished a merry Christmas to all Orthodox believers, as well as to all "people of good will whose beliefs and opinions differ from ours."
After his address, a display of fireworks was set off, and the enormous crowd headed back towards the pedestrian zone in Knez Mihajlova Street. Armed with their traditional whistles and trumpets, they formed a protest column that wound its way through downtown Belgrade, making stupendous amounts of noise that rose to a crescendo in front of the Serbian Presidency, the buildings of the Serbian Parliamentar, and the City Hall. Huge numbers of Belgraders remained in front of the Church of St. Sava to attend the midnight Christmas service, which ended in the early morning hours.
Wolfe & Teanosugar