Thursday, March 24, 2011

March 25 - Eleftheria!!!!

A big holiday here.... March 25th - both the day of the Annunciation and the day of Greek Independence.... freedom from the hated Ottoman Turks in 1821. It was a perfect day for a parade - a sunny crystal clear day and the streets were full of children waving flags, street vendors hawking balloons, flags, and food, and row after row of proud young marchers in school uniforms or gorgeous historic costumes.

The flag of Greece has not changed since the revolution against the Ottoman Empire in 1821. The white cross in the upper left hand corner of the flag signifies the important role of the Greek Orthodox Church in the formation of the Hellenic Nation, for during the dark time that the Turks controlled the land, the church kept Greek language, culture and customs alive. The blue and white alternating stripes represent the sea and the relentless waves of the Aegean. There are nine stripes representing each letter of the Greek word for freedom, Eleftheria. Or the meter of the phrase "Eleftheria i Thanatos" (Freedom or Death).

We knew thee of old,
Oh, divinely restored,
By the lights of thine eyes,
And the light of thy Sword,
From the graves of our slain,
Shall thy valour prevail,
As we greet thee again-
Hail, Liberty! Hail!

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