Greek Independence Day is the national holiday celebrated throughout Greece. The Independence Day falls on March 25th, which marks the start of the Greek War for Independence. Another reason this day is widely celebrated across Greece is that it is the same timing as the Greek Orthodox celebration of the Annunciation to the Theotokos, where it is said that the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would give birth to the son of God.
History in a Nutshell
Dating back from 1453, Greeks were under the control of the Ottoman Empire. For hundreds of years, there wasn’t hope or attempts to secure their freedom until the Filiki Eteria, a secret organization, paved the way and igniting the Greek people to fight for their freedom. This organization helped to reunite people from all over Greece, covering the regions of the Peloponnese, Crete, Macedonia and central Greece.
With the backing of the Filiki Eteria, revolutionaries across the country joined forced to fight against the Ottoman Empire, and eventually gained enough force and support to wage a war against the Ottoman Empire. The Greek revolt that made history started on March 25, 1821, when the Bishop Germanos of Patras made the symbolic action of raising the revolution flag over the Monastery of Agia Lavra in the Peloponnese, which created the rally cry of “Freedom or death.”
After this point, the battles began, and the Greeks were able to win several of the first initial battles, including capturing Athens in 1822. Given the Ottoman Empire’s strength and numbers, the Turks were able to regain control of Athens and many of the Greek islands by 1827. The years of fighting went on, with the battle lasting until 1832, when Greece was finally able to free themselves, becoming a free and independent country.
The Religious Meaning of March 25th
As we mentioned earlier, this date also bears religious significance. The annunciation is celebrated as it is exactly nine months before Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ. Greeks celebrate this day and the good message shared between the Virgin Mary and the Archangel. As history and religious documents state, on this day, an angel visited Mary, gave her a lily flower and informed her that she would bring the Son of God into the world. In fact, the word ‘Evaggelismos’ comes from the Greek Word Evaggelia which means “good message.” Given the religious and historical importance of March 25th, schools and stores are closed.