A few years ago I lived in a rented apartment on March 25th street, in Nafplio.
It’s a pretty strange name for a road, but a very useful aide memoir, and it’s a date I never forget. March 25th is Independence Day in Greece.
Earlier this week, with just a few days to go, I was not surprised to find group of young people in blue skirts and black trousers and neat white shirts hanging around in groups and practising marching up and down, banners waving.
Ninety five years ago, on March 25th 1821, Greece gained independence from the Turks, having been occupied by the Ottoman empire for 368 years. On that day, in the early part of the nineteenth century, Bishop Germanos of Patra raised the flag of revolution over the Monastery of Agia Lavra in the Peloponnese, and Modern Greece was born.
Freedom or Death was the cry and it is a sentiment that the Greeks have not forgotten.
But a country cannot be invaded for nearly 400 years without some sort of balance being found in day to day living. The village where I live, for example, has a Greek name, but it has a Turkish one too, and oddly it is the Turkish name that is most commonly used by the locals.
Some of the villagers still speak Turkish and some are of Turkish decent.
It’s interesting to note that there is no distinction made, as far as I can see, between those Greeks who are of purely Greek descent, and those who have Turkish ancestors. They are all getting ready for the celebration with equal enthusiasm, and it promises to be a special day!!