Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Greece Is the Word

Magnet # 201:  Greek Flag

Material:  Plastic

Purchased By:  Mom & Dad

This one's for the Greeks, who are celebrating their Independence Day tomorrow. Historically, March 25 is believed to be the day that the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would bear the Son of God. It's an extremely important date in the Greek Orthodox calendar and, because of this, it was also the day that, in 1821, Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the flag and called his countrymen to arms, launching the Greek fight for independence against the Ottoman Empire.

The Greeks were under the rule of the Ottoman Empire for around 400 years, who did their best to assimilate them, but failed.  They had been involved in other uprisings against the Ottomans, but this would be their final one. It lasted for over eight years, during which the Greek rebellion gained the sympathy and support of much of Europe and America because of its classical heritage. Many from around the Continent and the United States contributed financially to the cause and some even took up arms. Lord Byron, the British Romantic poet, came to fight on the Greeks' side, eventually dying of a fever. He is a national hero in Greece for his efforts, and some believe he would have been made King of Greece had he lived. Eventually, countries also came to the aid of the Greeks when the British, Russian, and French navy wiped out the Ottoman and Egyptian fleet at the Battle of Navarino in 1827. By 1829, with the assistance of the French military, and thanks to the Russians declaring war on the Turks. the Greeks had driven the Ottomans out of their land.  But it wouldn't be until 1832 at the Convention of London that Greece was established as an independent nation. Ever since, Greece has done all in its power to maintain its sovereignty and expand its size, never backing down or giving up, not even when the Nazis took over during World War II.

The Greek flag, which is featured on this magnet, has not changed since its official adoption by the first Greek National Assembly in 1822 during the Revolution. The cross is very prominent on the flag and it represents how important the Greek Orthodox Church is in the life of its citizens. The churning waves of the Aegean Sea are said to be represented in the alternating blue and white stripes, but some claim it is the sea and sky. And the nine stripes are said to either stand for the nine letters in the Greek word for freedom or the nine Muses of classical Greek mythology. This flag is a very important symbol of Greek Independence Day. Crowds of people wave it high as they go to festivals in the streets of nearly every village and city in the country. Marching bands in traditional costumes and colorful dancers perform in these processions, and dignitaries often participate. The largest parade of all is in Athens, the nation's capitol. And, of course, a great deal of traditional Greek cuisine is enjoyed on this day, such as spanikopita, barbecued meat, and baklava. Many families serve it at gatherings at their homes and the churches are filled throughout the day. The festivities have even spread to the United States, with cities such as Boston, Detroit, and New York City having Independence Day parades of their own on March 25.

So, if you're Greek, I hope you enjoy this special holiday that your ancestors fought so hard for. And even if you're not, that's no excuse not to have a little Hellenistic-themed fun today. Stop by a Greek restaurant or a Gyro shop and get a taste of its traditional cuisine for yourself. You shouldn't be disappointed - their food is definitely a favorite of mine. Or you could always watch a Greek-themed movie like My Big, Fat Greek Wedding or the old Clash of the Titans. Just remember, the Greeks know how to have a good time so follow their lead and have a fun day yourself!

No comments:

Post a Comment