Tomorrow, March 25, is Greek Independence Day. This celebration marks the date in 1821, when the peoples who live in what is now Greece, rose up in revolt against the Turkish occupiers of their homeland. A protracted war ensued that culminated in the eventual establishment of the modern state of Greece. I am posting this brief history in anticipation of the religious feast day and the national holiday.
This day (March 25) is the Feast of the Annunciation of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary, Mother of God) in the Greek Orthodox Church. This feast commemorates the Archangel Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary and announcing to her that she will bear the son of God. The organizers of the early Greek revolt selected this feast day to begin the insurrection.
Greece had been part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire since the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The Greek revolution commenced on March 25, 1821, when Bishop Germanos raised the banner of revolt over the Monastery of Agia Lavra in the Pelopponese. The cry, “Freedom or Death” become the motto of the revolution.
In addition to the Feast Day, Independence Day is observed throughout Greece with flag festivals and parades. The modern Greek flag is depicted below. It was first used in signalling the start of the freedom insurrection.
The revolution was concluded by the Treaty of Constantinople signed in 1832. This protocol was recognized by the Ottoman sultan and guaranteed by the United Kingdom, France and tsarist Russia. It acknowledged the independence of the Kingdom of Greece with Prince Otto of Bavaria as the new King of the Hellenes (Greeks). He reigned using the name of King Otto I.
My husband, Aaron, and I are hosting a brunch tomorrow commemorating the birth of modern Greece and our flag. Alex, my identical twin brother, and his soon-to-be husband, Ropati, will join us as will Aaron’s older brother, David, and his partner. Yes, we’ll all be bare with our Greek flag waving in the air over our condo’s balcony!
Author’s Note: The ancient Greeks are renown throughout the world for their preference for nudity, especially during athletic competitions. However, their warriors did not fight naked. Even soldiers have enough sense not to go into battle with exposed genitals particularly when the weapon of choice was most likely a sword.
And although the ancient Greeks were known for their acceptance and tolerance of male same gender intimacy, the modern Greek state (nation) has been slow and long in permitting such relationships.
Happy Greek Independence Day!