St Sava’s Day
In Serbia, a day is observed on the 27th of January known as St. Sava’s Day. Also known as Spirituality Day, this holiday commemorates the national hero and patron saint of the Serbian people. Although this day is widely celebrated in Serbia, it is not a public holiday.
That means that businesses and government offices can remain open, and working people do not have the day off. This holiday is marked with liturgies at Serbian temples, with many Serbians gathering at St. Sava’s Temple at Vračar. It is also a day to give out Saint Sava Awards at the Orthodox Theology Faculty.
The History of St. Sava’s Day in Serbia
Saint Sava was born in 1169 and was named Rastko at birth. He was the youngest son of Serbian Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja and was made the prince of the Province of Hum in 1190. After a few years, however, he decided to leave for Mount Athos in Greece to become an Orthodox monk. This is where he not only received his theological training but also his monastic name, Sava.
He would spend approximately 14 years on Mount Athos before he returned to Serbia to become the superior of the Studenica Monastery. He would play an important role in the Serbian Church remaining Orthodox and not becoming a part of the Roman Catholic Church. On January 27th, 1235, Sava died in Bulgaria on his way home from a trip to the Holy Land.
Near the end of the 16th century, the Ottomans burned the relics of Saint Sava. This showed that even the Ottomans understood how important Saint Sava was to the Serbian people. The site of the burning of the relics would become the site of the Church of Saint Sava, and work began on it in 1930. In 2004, after 74 years of work, the church was finally completed.
Observing St. Sava’s Day in Serbia
This holiday is observed with liturgies given at Serbian temples, and especially at St. Sava’s Temple at Vračar. The Saint Sava Awards are also given out to students at the Orthodox Theology Faculty. Most people attend to their regular lives on this day since it is not an official public holiday.