March 25, to the unsuspecting American is just like any other day. There’s nothing different or special about the day unless your in Greece. The celebration of the Greek Revolution of 1821 takes place on March 25. The Greek Revolution was the armed revolt conducted by the Greeks against the Ottoman Empire. The purpose was to liberate Greece from Ottoman empire and create an independent state. It was interesting the days leading up to the holiday. There were more white and blue greek flags hanging out of the window, children were running around with hand flags, and even the older greeks were smiling and making their way in the bright sunshine.
Near our school is a local park that often fills up with locals when the weather starts to clear up. Today in the park, people were flying kites, laughing and talking, and there was some dancing. It was an amazing experience to watch the tradition continue to thrive and stay alive almost two hundred years from the impact of the Ottoman Empire. I was able to draw several similarities between Greek Independence Day and the 4th of July. Just like in July when we celebrate our independence as a nation, the Greeks celebrate theirs as well. I felt confident enough to go up to some of the older greeks who recall in their childhood, their parents telling them stories of their grandparents recalling the fight to keep the Greek spirit and independence during the occupation.
One man, Evangelos, a older man in his late sixties, told me that that’s the reason why the greeks were so stubborn now. They were occupied and that was enough. He fondly told us stories of his life growing up on the island of Milos before moving to Athens for university and the difference of island tradition and the city. He told me he loved being in the city more for celebration than the island because there were more people to celebrate with, the army parades through town, and the celebrations goes way into the night. More than that, he felt tied to this holiday because he felt that it was a day to take pride in his Greekness and his ancestors that fought to remain Greek. He asked me how did I feel on the Fourth of July, did I not feel patriotic for the freedom of the nation? I responded that I did, the day was a remembrance for future generations to remember the progress we’ve made over the years to be the nation they lived in.
From this experience I learned the importance of holidays for each country, There is more important dates than the Fourth of July or Memorial day for us Americans. It taught me to the importance of learning others countries history, triumphs, and losses. Experiencing the local celebration with the locals made my view of the world expand further beyond the scope of my limited view. This holiday in addition to Ash Monday creates a month of splendid celebration for Greece, March is the month for remembrance, rebirth, and new beginnings. The beginning of new opportunities to remember the past and create a new future.