St. Vitus’ Day is celebrated annually on June 28. It honors a 14th-century conflict that represents Serbia’s ethnic pride. In Serbian Cyrillic, ‘Vidovdan’ translates to ‘St. Vitus Day,’ which is considered a religious and national holiday, or a ‘slava’ (‘feast day’), in Serbia. According to the Serbian Orthodox Church, it is a holiday that honors Saint Prince Lazar and the Serbian holy martyrs who died in the Battle of Kosovo against the Ottoman Empire in 1389. The holiday serves as an important part of the Serbian national identity.
History of St. Vitus Day
St. Vitus Day holds special significance for the Serbian people. In the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, the Ottoman army engaged the Serbian army on the Kosovo plain. Sultan Murad and Prince Lazar were both killed during the battle. This day was designated by the Serbian Orthodox Church as a memorial day for Saint Prince Lazar and the Serbian holy martyrs who died during the Battle of Kosovo. The Kosovo Myth — which is based on the events that occurred during the battle — played a significant role in the formation of Serbian identity.
The Serbians declared war on the Ottoman Empire in 1876. The assassination of the Austro-Hungarian crown prince sparked the First World War in 1914. In 1916, Radomir Vešović and other prominent Montenegrin commanders plotted an uprising against the Austro-Hungarian occupying forces in Montenegro. The Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919, effectively ending World War I.
By 1921, Serbian King Alexander I had established the Vidovdan Constitution, a new constitution for the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. On the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo, Serbian President Slobodan Milošević delivered the Gazimestan speech on the battleground. In 2006, Montenegro became the 192nd member state of the United Nations. The Community Assembly of Kosovo and Metohija held its debut assembly in 2008. The National Museum of Serbia opened its doors once again in 2018, 15 years after its closure.
St. Vitus Day timeline
In the Battle of Kosovo, the Ottoman army engages the Serbian army on the Kosovo plain.
The Serbians declare war on the Ottoman Empire.
The Austro-Hungarian crown prince is assassinated, which triggers the First World War.
World War I comes to an end after the Treaty of Versailles is signed.
Serbian King Alexander I proclaims the Vidovdan Constitution — a new constitution for the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.
St. Vitus Day FAQs
What ethnicity are Serbs
Serbians are of South Slavic descent.
Is English spoken in Serbia?
Yes, English is commonly spoken in Serbia.
What language do Serbs speak?
Serbian is the country’s official and national language. It is a standardized form of the Serbo-Croatian language, which is mostly spoken by Serbs.
St. Vitus Day Activities
Read about the battle of Kosovo
Take some time today and research the Battle of Kosovo against the Ottoman Empire. Learn about this important aspect of Serbia's traditional, historical, and national identity. You can also share your findings with friends and spark an interesting historic discussion.
Visit the Serbian National Museum
See how the renovated Serbia National Museum brings history to life. Tour the premises, take photos, and learn about Serbia's history.
As part of the celebrations, you can visit the historical landmarks in Serbia, such as the 55-foot statue of Prince Lazar Hrebeljanovic in Mitrovica and the town's medieval monastery. The Serbian Orthodox clerks hold a liturgy for pilgrims at the Gazimestan monument, which you can attend.
5 Interesting Facts About Serbia
The home to Roman emperors
Historians believe that around 18 Roman emperors were born in Serbia.
Serbia is the world's second-largest exporter of raspberries.
The largest European gorge
Serbia's Djerdap Gorge is Europe's longest and highest gorge.
It is one of Europe's oldest cities
Belgrade in Serbia is one of Europe's oldest cities.
Serbian last names
Most Serbian surnames end with 'ić.'
Why We Love St. Vitus Day
Serbians are hospitable
Serbians are known for their hospitality. As anyone who has visited Serbia can attest, they are all friendly. Several international polls have named Serbia the most welcoming country in the world.
It has a long history
St. Vitus Day has a long history, dating back to the outbreak of the war in 1389. The date of celebration is important to Serbians because many other significant events have occurred.
It gives us insight into Serbian culture
Serbia is rich in culture and heritage. The Serbian Orthodox church is the country’s largest denomination. This holiday allows us to learn about this institution and the religious side of Serbia in general.
St. Vitus Day dates