Greek Independence Day is the perfect time to fly your Greek flag and pick up some baklava from the local bakery.
This important holiday marks the day in 1821 when, after 400 years of rule, Greece began to revolt against the Ottoman Empire.
Greek Independence Day is significant not only to residents of Greece but is also celebrated among the Greek diaspora around the globe. The day honors the nation’s role in history and its contributions to Western culture.
Many around the world share in this celebration. But outside of Greece, thousands of Australians also revel in the day. From 1952 to 1971, the Australians allowed Greeks to migrate to their country after World War II, and the Civil War left Greece economically and politically unstable. During the peak of this migration, just over 160,000 Greeks lived Down Under.
History of Greek Independence Day
Some Greeks call this holiday the Celebration of the Greek Revolution. That name emphasizes that it marks the start of the War of Independence, their fight for freedom, rather than the day they achieved it.
After the Ottoman Empire took over their lands, Greece lost much of its national culture and identity, which dates back to ancient Athens. The Ottoman rulers conquered the eastern Mediterranean region in the middle of the 1400s. By then, they had taken over Greece and reached as far east as Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine and as far south as Northern Africa. This large region gave the Ottomans complete control of the eastern Mediterranean Sea – control they’d not easily give up.
A secret society of brave Greeks, the Filiki Eteria, which translates to “Society of Friends,” was formed in 1814. Its sole purpose was to unite all Greeks to achieve their common goal of overthrowing the Ottoman Empire.
After almost seven years of resistance, the War for Independence started in 1821. The revolution was brutal, and countless brave Greeks — both fighters and civilians — sacrificed their lives. In 1826, the Ottoman leadership signed “The Protocol of St. Petersburg.” This important document recognized Greece as a self-governing territory of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans still considered Greece their territory. But this action indicated that they’d had enough of the revolutionaries.
After the war, the London Protocol met and officially recognized Greece as an independent state. That recognition restored freedom and national pride and opened a new chapter of freedom for Greeks.
How to Celebrate Greek Independence Day
No one has to be of Greek heritage or visit Greece to celebrate Greek Independence Day! Anyone who wants to honor the brave freedom fighters can join the fun.
Wear the Colors
Dress in blue and white, the colors of the Greek flag. Blue honors the nation’s nautical heritage, and white denotes the purity of the hearts of its freedom fighters.
Attend a Local Festival
Larger Greek communities enjoy marking the day with a parade or festival, especially in Australia and the United States. These celebrations are a great cultural experience – watching vibrant dancers, hearing the music, and enjoying the delicious cuisine.
Connect with the Greek Community
If your local community does not hold a festival or parade, look to connect with an online community. Listen to their social media discussions to learn even more about the culture and history of their homeland.
Attend a Greek Celebration
For an authentic experience, book a much-deserved trip to Athens to celebrate. Their yearly parade attracts over 100,000 people and lasts about 90 minutes. Parade spectacles include members of the Armed Forces, military vehicles, marching bands, dignitaries, and more. Some municipal and national sites also waive admission fees on Greek Independence Day in honor of the occasion.
Brush up on Greek history
The Mediterranean nation has a long history, dating back to ancient philosophers. Greece’s history is long and fascinating, with many colorful stories. Anyone interested can find volumes of books on the subject at their local library, and can also stream a documentary or find an online resource. Don’t worry about a lack of resources – there are many!
Dine at an Authentic Greek Restaurant
Try a sumptuous meal at a local Greek restaurant. Feast on some delicious, traditional foods like gyro, moussaka, or souvlaki. Then, enjoy baklava and other delicious pastries for dessert.
Greek Independence Day is not only for native Greeks. It encompasses their entire diaspora and invites non-Greeks to learn more about their history and culture.
Book a visit to attend the celebration in person or plan to honor the day from the comfort of home. Whatever the choice, Greek Independence Day is a time to reflect on the contributions of Greek society, which has significantly shaped the world.