I’d love to be in Crete today, 25th March as it’s a religious and public holiday, celebrated with processions, pomp and ceremony.
In the Greek Orthodox calendar, today celebrates the annunciation by the angel to the Virgin Mary. Imagine being told you were going to provide life to the Son of God, the Savior of the world! The Greeks refer to this as Evaggelismos, it comes from the Greek word Evaggelia = Good message, and from this the names Vangelis’s and Evangelia. So, Chronia Polla (Many years) to all those celebrating their name day today. I bet their friends are jealous that they always have a holiday for their name day.
After suffering 400 years of Turkish rule, Bishop Germanos raised the flag of the Greek revolution in Patras on 25th March 1821. It took many years and horrendous bloodshed until much of Greece finally won independence. Of course, with poor communication it took months to rally forces to start an effective rebellion. Here is an excerpt from Kritsotopoula, Girl of Kritsa where my heroine, Rodanthe looks back on how she heard of the rebellion…
Virtually a year ago, on 25 March 1821, following a series of abominations against church leaders and congregations, the bishop of Patras raised the Greek flag to declare revolution.
Rebels adopted the rally cry ‘Freedom, or death’. We were ignorant of these facts until May, when persistent knocks at our door woke us in the dead of night. Nothing good comes
to the door during curfew, so Papa was at my side in seconds. He whispered, ‘Sit with Mama. Bolt the bedroom door.’
If I hadn’t been scared, I’d have enjoyed being snug with Mama as we murmured our speculation to each other. Mama concluded it wasn’t an emergency, or Papa would have rushed out. Sounds from the kitchen told us he served his visitor raki and cold mezes. Soon a scraping noise indicated Papa had moved the kitchen table, so I guessed he took something out of his floor safe. I’m sure coins clinked.
When Papa was alone, I went to the kitchen where he sat with a raki glass in one hand and his head in the other. He called Mama to join us, and then explained that our nocturnal visitor had been Mardati Yannis, who was too excited to wait until morning to share amazing news from the mainland. He’d come to seek Papa’s blessing before taking his men to join the rebels. From his demeanor, it was obvious that Papa was wrestling with his conscience. Mama voiced my concern. ‘Will you join them?’
To find out what happened next you can Click Here.
Meanwhile, back in the present day, this is a proud national holiday. This clip, reposted from YouTube (under their guidelines) shows the parade through Kritsa in 2014. I’ve had fun spotting faces in the crowd. Were you there?
Even if it wasn’t a Saturday, schools and most businesses would close. Even the smallest villages celebrate with parades, speeches and patriotic poems. In larger towns and cities the parades are supplemented by organised groups and members of the Greek Armed Forces.
Perhaps I’ll be watching the Kritsa parade next year.