25 March 2015

"Freedom or Death" 25 March, Happy Greek Independence Day

My children, celebrating 25 March
My children, celebrating 25 March



I do so hope the weather is good for tomorrow, the twenty fifth of March, we have had so much rain lately, Greece, along with Greeks all over the world; will be celebrating Greek Independence Day.

This day is celebrated with parades, in the largest towns and the smallest villages, preparations and rehearsals have been in full swing, for days beforehand.

The children, are especially excited, they get to dress up!


Mothers have frantically been gathering together, Greek traditional outfits for the girls, tsaroukia (the shoes worn by the tsoliades), foustanellas (the skirts worn by the tsoliades) and the red fez, for the boys.


Here are a few pictures of my children, Yiannis and Nais, celebrating the twenty fifth of March , long, long ago.

Don't they look splendid?



My daughter, Nais, third from left, 25 March 1990
My daughter, Nais, third from left, 25 March 1990



You can not imagine the time it takes to iron the foustanella, metres and metres of pleats!




My son, Yiannis, 25 March 1987 5th from the front, with fez pulled well down!
My son, Yiannis, 25 March 1987
5th from the front, with fez pulled well down!



I must have gone through preparations for this day, with my two children, for about twelve years or more!




Yiannis.traditional cretan dress.  March 25 1986
Yiannis.traditional cretan dress.
March 25 1986
Far right


Yiannis as a Cretan
Yiannis as a Cretan



How proud I was though, when I saw them marching through the streets with their school friends, and, how proud they all looked, proud to be Greek.



Nais, leading her class 25 March 1990
Nais, leading her class
25 March 1990



Nais..giving it her all, forward march! 25 March 1990
Nais..giving it her all, forward march!
25 March 1990



A shame that I never got to see MGG (My Greek God) all dressed up for the twenty fifth of March celebrations!

Here he is, with his school from Korinth, in 1967.



MGG 25 March 1967
MGG 25 March 1967
On the right


MGG school sketch 1967 25 March On the right
MGG school sketch 1967
25 March
On the right



Once the parade is over, the tradition, is to hotfoot it to the nearest taverna for the traditional salt cod (Bacaliaro) and garlic sauce (Skordalia), always eaten on the twenty fifth of March.



salt cod
salt cod



Salt cod is eaten as it is now lent, no meat allowed, the salted type is used as years ago, before the age of the deep freeze, it was difficult for inland towns and villages to get hold of fresh fish, and even if they managed to, they had no way of keeping it from going off!


The twenty fifth of March, is a double celebration in Greece. Pride of place takes the annunciation, by Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, that she would become the mother of Jesus Christ, Son of God, celebrated by the Greek Orthodox Church.
The twenty fifth of March falls exactly nine months before Christmas.




Fra Angelico The Annunciation
Fra Angelico
The Annunciation


Secondly, since 1821, Greek independence is celebrated.


The Greeks, helped by Europe, who were sympathetic towards Greece, because of the contribution of so much of their culture to the western world, revolted against four hundred years of Ottoman rule.


The Filiki Etera, a secret nineteenth century organization, the purpose of which was to overthrow the Ottomans, initiated the Greek revolution, lead by Alexander Ypsilantis, in the spring of 1821.




Alexander Ypsilantis
Alexander Ypsilantis


The motto for Greece, Freedom or Death, Eleftheria i thanatos (Ελευθερία ή θάνατος) arose during the War of Independence.

It is still in use today, and is a popular theory regarding the use of 9 stripes (for the nine syllables of the motto) in the Greek flag.


The Filiki Eteria at its emblem had the letters "ΗΕΑ" and "ΗΘΣ". 

These are the letters of the words "Ή ΕλευθερίΑ" "Ή ΘάνατοΣ", which means Freedom or Death. 

Also, this is the motto of the IV Infantry Division of the Greek army.




Emblem of Filiki Eteria
Emblem of Filiki Eteria




Fighting for Greece, along with many great Greek soldiers, such as, Makrododatos, Botsiaris, Kolokotroni, Karaiskakis, Kapodistrias and the famous Bouboulina, a woman warrior, was Lord Byron, a poet, one of the major British romantics.




Lord Byron
Lord Byron 


Byron, “Mad, bad and dangerous to know” was known and respected by the Greeks, for his love of Greece, he once said;

“If I am a poet, the air of Greece has made me one”

His poem “Curse of Minerva” was written as an attack against  Lord Elgin, for stealing the Parthenon Marbles, which had caused Byron much sorrow.


During his involvement in the Greek Revolution, he formed “The Byron Brigade”, becoming the head of the Greek rebels; he even used his own money to finance the war.


After his death in 1824, aged only thirty six, he was buried as a Greek hero, with three days of official mourning.




Lord Byron on his deathbed Joseph Dionysius Odevaere
Lord Byron on his deathbed
Joseph Dionysius Odevaere



Byronas, an area of North East Athens, is named after him and many male children are christened Byronas.

The Greeks triumphed over the Ottomans and became Independent in 1821, the first head of independent Greece, being Kapodistrias.



Ioannis Kapodistrias First head of independent Greece
Ioannis Kapodistrias
First head of independent Greece



After the assassination of Kapodistrias, Otto of Bavaria became the first King of Greece.
All kings after Otto were called King of Hellas.




Otto of Bavaria First King of Greece
Otto of Bavaria
First King of Greece



The last King of Greece, after a referendum in 1973 abolished the Greek monarchy, was Konstantine II.




Last King of Greece Konstantine II
Last King of Hellas
Konstantine II



Tomorrow, the phrase on everyone's lips will be:

Zito Hellas

Long live Greece.

P.S
I wrote this post yesterday, now, this morning, it is absolutely pouring down here in Loutraki.
What bad luck for all those excited children, and bad luck for the mothers, all the preparations, done for nothing, if the parade is cancelled, which, sadly, seems to be a very strong possibility.


Read all about Greece's other parade day here:

Oxi Day Celebration Greece. “OXI”, No, the One Word, Which, on 28th October 1940, Voiced by the Greeks, Changed the Course of World War II

1 comment:

  1. Fabulous post. I love the way you have linked very personal memories with an overview of the history. I've completed a great deal of research into the Greek war of independence and the roles played by Byron and Bouboulina.
    Sorry to hear the parades may be cancelled after so much hard work. X

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for reading my blog, I am always absolutely delighted to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions.
They make all my efforts worthwhile,.

Please do check back, after leaving a comment, as I make every effort to answer all your remarks promptly.
Thanks,
Susan.x

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