Even the sky was on our side for the inaugural parade followed by the mass celebrated in the cathedral. Indeed whereas on the previous days the sky had been grey and not very attractive, the morning of December 3rd turned out to be almost spring-like, which was a really good sign for the organisers.
At around 11.00 the proud guardsmen of the Krawat Regiment, under the orders of their commanding officer Zlatko Matejic, arrived in front of the hotel to lead the inaugural parade of the delegations, their flags flying and resplendent in their costumes, as they paraded towards the cathedral along avenues which had been closed to traffic all along the marching route.
The joyful parade stretched over several dozen metres, attracting the attention of passers-by who were amazed at all this unaccustomed activity in the streets of Zagreb. At one stage the parade passed close to a demonstration by wolf protection activists brandishing placards and banners displaying their demands, though this in no way disturbed the Christmas in Europe parade.
When they arrived at the cathedral precinct, it seemed the right moment for the family photo, always a tricky exercise for the photographer who, in spite of his wide-angle lens, never quite manages to ‘get everyone in’.
Moreover, we had to wait until the previous mass had finished and the large congregation had left the cathedral before we could get to the sanctuary where Father Josip Kuhtic, before celebrating mass, addressed a few warm words of greeting to the assembled delegations. In his sermon he spoke of the importance of the values of Christmas and said how happy he was to welcome to Zagreb the teachers and students from the 15 countries represented. At the end of the service the students of each delegation presented to everyone their best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New – which were loudly applauded.