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Independence Day

Independence Day 2017 and 2018

Independence Day is a major public holiday in Greece that celebrates Greek sovereignty.

YearDateDayHoliday
201725 MarSatIndependence Day
201825 MarSunIndependence Day

The holiday is celebrated on March 25 each year. While Independence Day is a national holiday that calls for much patriotism, it is also a time for religious celebrations. March 25 is also the day of the Feast of Annunciation, a major holiday for the Greek Orthodox Church.

History

Many Greeks are very proud of their sovereignty. To understand their pride, you must know about Greece’s history with Turkey.

  • The Fall of the Byzantine Empire

    By the 15th century CE, Europe had seen many empires rise and fall. The Greek and Roman Empires had both lived through their golden ages and dissolved into modest nations. In 1453 CE, the Byzantine Empire also fell. After Constantinople was captured by the Turks, the Ottoman Empire began to push deeper into Europe. Their next target was Greece.

  • The Capture of Greece

    While the Greeks resisted the advance of the Ottoman Empire for a while, they were no match for the Turks’ well-supplied army and rich resources. In 1458, Ottoman forces marched on Athens and Greece fell under Turkish control. The Ottoman Empire maintained its hold over Greece for nearly 400 years.

  • Greece Stands United

    Despite being controlled by the Turks, the people of Greece maintained their language and national identity. This was likely due to Greece’s existing pride in their stories and history. Eventually, the Greeks began to yearn for sovereignty and the ability to govern themselves.

  • The Greeks Go to War

    In 1821, Greek nationalism reached a boiling point. On March 25, 1821, an Orthodox bishop known as Germanos of Patras hoisted a Greek flag on the Monastery of Agia Laura in Peloponnese. Since religion was connected to the national identity of many Greeks, it seems appropriate that Germanos was the one to raise the Greek flag. This triggered a new war between Greece and the Ottoman Empire. Historians now call this conflict the Greek War for Independence. During the war, Greeks commonly shouted the slogan ‘freedom or death’ in public places. In Greek, this slogan is ‘Eleftheria i Thanatos’.

  • Greek Forces Fight the Ottomans

    After a campaign that lasted for more than a year, the Greek forces marched onto Athens and reclaimed their capital from the Ottoman Empire. While Greece was recognized as a sovereign nation after capturing Athens, the Greek War for Independence continued for an additional eight years due to Turkish military efforts. During this time, Greece received support from various nations, including Britain, France, and Russia. In one extraordinary situation, Greece’s allies destroyed an Ottoman fleet that was en route to Greece. The Greek War for Independence ended with the Treaty of Edime. Even after the end of the Greek War for Independence, Greece was involved in wars and skirmishes with Turkey until the Ottoman Empire crumbled after World War I.

Traditions

There are many patriotic and cultural celebrations that Greeks participate in on March 25 each year.

  • Parades

    There are various patriotic parades in Greece’s major cities during Independence Day. People who go to one of these parades can expect to hear music and see many Greek flags. In every small town and village in Greece, young students march with banners and Greek flags. It is also common for these young children to wear traditional Greek clothing.

  • Feast of Annunciation

    The Feast of Annunciation is also enjoyed by many Greeks on March 25. This Orthodox event honors the moment when Mary was told by the Angel Gabriel that she would give birth to the son of God. This feast is usually enjoyed by families within their homes. This feast consists of traditional Greek dishes such as spanikopita and moussaka. Cod with garlic sauce is also a common dish for this meal.

Independence Day is a patriotic holiday in Greece that allows Greek citizens to reflect on their history and spend time with their family members.

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