Traces of Tito on the 25th of May
I couldn’t let the 25th of May go by without letting readers know its importance in Belgrade/Yugoslav history. For many years, it was celebrated as Tito’s birthday and International Youth Day. His actual birthday was May 7th, but his official birth certificate stated the 25th. And you thought Obama was the only national leader with birth certificate issues…*
May 25th became a national holiday in Yugoslavia during Tito’s tenure. Every year, a unique birthday baton was created for a relay race. The relay usually started in Tito’s home town of Kumrovec, Croatia, and ended in Belgrade’s stadium, where the baton was received by the man himself.
The race continued for eight years after Tito’s death in 1980. Though there was only one “official” baton each year, organizations made special ones that are featured in the aptly titled 25 of May Museum. A small fraction of them cover a wall and fill several display cases.
If you think this is ancient history, um, how old are you that 1988 qualifies as ancient history? Last May 25th, over fifteen thousand people came to Tito’s grave to reflect on the man’s legacy. Last week, a memorial relay began in Umag, Croatia, with the goal of ending in Belgrade. I don’t think they made a baton, but I’m hoping they’ll leave the lead relay car, “a 30-year-old Mercedes decorated with pictures of Tito.”
Tito remains a controversial figure more than thirty years after his death and 119 years after his birth. I imagine he-and his birthday-will continue to be remembered for several decades to come.
According to Wikipedia (consider the source), he celebrated his birthday on May 25 because he survived a Nazi attack on his life that day in 1944; the Nazis had documents that listed Tito’s birthday as May 25th, the same day of the attempted attack.