Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Greek Independence Day

Greek Independence Day (also known as Greek National Day) is a public holiday in Cyprus that's celebrated on March 25.  Even though Cyprus is a separate country from Greece, Cyprus still honors and celebrates this that that commemorates the start of the 1821 Greek War of Independence.

According to history, Greece was under Ottoman Turkish rule from 1453.  On March 25, 1821, at the Agia Lavras Monastery, Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the Greek flag and declared that the Greeks would fight for their freedom and independence.  On June 9, 1821, three ships sailed from Cyprus (which was also under the Ottoman Turkish rule at the time) to assist the Greeks with fighting for their independence.  Over 1,000 Cypriots fought in the Greek War of Independence, and many of these Cypriots were killed in battle.
With early success, the Greeks captured Athens in June 1822.  However, by 1827, Athens and most of the Greek islands had been recaptured by the Ottoman Turks.  Towards the end of this long war, Greece was granted assistance from other countries.  In 1829, an international treaty declared central Greece as independent.  However, the war continued until all of mainland Greece and the Greek islands were solely under Greek rule.

After years of fighting, Greece was fully recognized as an independent country on July 21, 1832.  Since Cyprus was a separate country from Greece, the Cypriot island remained in the Ottoman Empire until 1878, when the island was given to Great Britain.  Eventually, Cyprus gained its independence in 1960.

Also, March 25 is considered a holy day for the Greek Orthodox Church, which is the main religion in Cyprus.  According to the Greek Orthodox calendar, it's Annunciation Day, when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was pregnant and would give birth to Jesus, the Son of God. 

Luke 1:26-38 (NIV) states:
"In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, as descendant of David.  The virgin's name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you.'  Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, his kingdom will never end.'  'How will this be,' Mary asked the angel, 'since I am a virgin?'  The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.  For nothing is impossible with God.'  'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered.  'May it be to me as you have said.'  Then the angel left her."
In honor of Greek Independence Day, it's tradition in Cyprus for school groups and marching bands to parade through the streets.

To view a list of the 2014 public holidays in Cyprus, please click HERE As the year progresses, plan to visit this blog to view updates and descriptions of the various Cypriot holidays.

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