CUSTOMS SERVICE DAY – MAY 25
Serbian Customs Service Day, May 25, has been marked since 2008, in memory of the establishment of the first gümrük (customs) house on the river Sava near Ostružnica in 1804.
It is an opportunity also to award the most successful customs officers for honourable and responsible performance of their professional duties, which is one of the most important priorities of the Republic of Serbia Customs Administration.
The Customs Service Day is also another opportunity for numerous humanitarian activities and the campaign of voluntary donating blood, “Customs Officers for Serbia”, involving more and more members of the staff every year.
This date was marked in 2009 also by an official opening of the permanent museum exhibition “Customs Service from 1804 to 1914”.
Tibor Živković, PhD, Institute of History Director:
May 1804 saw the establishment of gümrük (customs) house on the river Sava near Ostružnica. The contemporary sources do not provide the exact date of the opening of gümrük house near Ostružnica, but it is possible to identify an approximate date to be taken as Serbian Customs Service Day, owing mostly to the memories of Karadjordje’s commander, beuluk-pasha Petar Jokić (about 1779-1852). It is the only source from that time, but comparing it to other sources we concluded that that date was near May 25, 1804.
This is what Jokić said about his memories of that event:
“ … And thence he started and went to Ostružnica. It was from there that he despatched to me a man with a word to send him two men from my men and I sent Jevta Vodeničarović and Paun Jovičić from Topola. The master had a ferry made at Ostružnica and named Janko Jevtić ferryman, and these two he assigned to help him with the ferry. (...) As for gümrük duties collected at the ferry, Janko would send them to Mladen, and Mladen used the monies to pay for things we took from abroad.”
International Customs Day
International Customs Day is celebrated on January 26. The first meeting of the Customs Co-operation Council, established one year previously by 17 European countries, was held on that day in 1953. The Customs Co-operation Council is the official name of the World Customs Organization.
The celebration of International Customs Day is an opportunity to highlight positive results of customs services all over the world and award the most deserving officers, On that occasion the World Customs Organization traditionally awards certificates of merit to the ones who were most successful in the areas designated as priority for a specific year. For instance, in 2008 priority was given to environmental protection, and in 2009 to cooperation between the customs service and business community.
Customs Service Patron Saint - St. Matthew
Serbs have a custom that is unique among the Christians, to celebrate the day of their patron saint. And like families celebrate their patron saint’s feast day on a particular day called slava, so do some professions also, and customs service officers have their patron saint and celebrate his day on November 29. Serbian customs officers’ patron saint is Sv. Matej (St. Matthew), and they have celebrated it since 2001. The initiative to designate the patron saint and his day was launched by the customs post Horgoš. On June 25, 2001 they sent a letter to His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Pavle , asking him for his blessing, opinion and suggestion which day should be celebrated as the patron saint’s day of the customs service. It was the opinion of the Serbian Orthodox Church Holy Synod of Bishops that the patron saint should be St. Mathew, who himself was a customs officer.
With pride and gratitude, the then Federal Customs Administration accepted to celebrate this saint as patron of all customs officer, and so the first celebration ceremony took place in the Federal Customs Administration amphitheatre on November 29, 2001, and the service was conducted by Patriarch Pavle himself. The customs officers were also greatly honoured in 2004 as well, when the service was once again conducted in the Customs Administration by Patriarch Pavle with priests.
According to the Orthodox Church custom, the celebration service is conducted by clerics and accompanied by slava cake, candle and wine, and refreshments are in line with the Nativity Fast rules.