Greek Independence Day
Every year, the Greek communities around the world congregate on the streets carrying their sky blue-and-white flags and donning their traditional costumes. Get to know more about why the Greeks are especially proud and regal every 25 March.
The Greek Independence Day happens every year on 25 March. It is a national public holiday celebrated in Greece and Greek communities around the world. It also coincides with the Orthodox Church’s celebration of the Annunciation to the Theotokos or ‘Mother of God,’ Mary. This makes 25 March a historical, cultural and religious celebration.
The Independence Day traces its roots to the year 1821, when the first revolts were staged by Greeks versus the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire. The Ottomans defeated the previous rulers of the Mediterranean region called the Byzantines, which had a predominantly Grecian culture, way back in the 1450s.
On 25 March 1821, tension in the Peloponnese region of Greece (known for their long tradition of conflict versus the Turks) bubbled over: the leader and bishop Germanos of Patras raised their banners at the Monastery of Agia Lavra and declared a revolution.
The Greeks were victorious in the first year of the war. Their motto was ‘Freedom or Death,’ showing their bravery and determination despite the strength of the Turks. But the battle dragged on. It was through the help of Britain, France and Russia that the fighting was resolved.
On 22 March 1829, Greece was declared an independent state through the London Protocol.
The Independence Day of the Greeks is not only a celebration of the country’s freedom. It is also an important occasion that helped form the cultural identity of the Greeks as a modern nation.
Greek Independence Day Parade
The Greek flag ‘I Galanolefki’ (Blue and White) traces its roots to the revolution. Popular tradition has it that the nine blue and white horizontal stripes represents the nine syllables in the revolutionary motto ‘Freedom or Death’ or ‘Eleftheria i thanatos.’
Freedom is also a very important theme in the Greece national anthem. The last lines read ‘Haire, o haire, Eleftheria!’ or ‘Hail, Liberty! Hail!’
Meanwhile, the cross at the upper left-hand corner symbolises the deep ties the Greeks have with the East Orthodox Christian Church. The colours blue and white meanwhile symbolise the Aegean Sea on the shores of Greece.
The Independence Day is a time when the Greeks remember the heroism of their ancestors and fill with pride at the rich history and culture they have as a nation. It is also a time for the Greeks to remember their roots and reconnect with family.
How it is celebrated
Because of its heavy religious and historic ties, Independence Day is celebrated ceremoniously by the Greek. The highlight of the celebration is the grand parade where the Greek flag figures prominently on the streets of Athens, Grecian cities and communities that hold the parade around the world.
In schools, students don traditional costumes, sing the national anthem and parade with the flag around towns and villages. In the big cities, the Armed Forces in full regalia or in traditional Greek wear participate in the bigger parade.
Floats and larger spectacles can also be seen during the celebrations. But the Greeks also do not forget the dead and the heroes who have inspired them to revolution in the first place, which is why some ceremonies may be made in historical markers and monuments to war heroes.
The Greek Independence Day is a communal celebration that commemorates the identity of the Greek nation. Those who join the festivities will be treated to a cultural fanfare and a peek into the proud history of the Greeks.