March 25th: Greek Independence Day

Greece, heritage, history, Independence, March 25th -

March 25th: Greek Independence Day

Hello, and Happy Friday. This upcoming Monday marks a day which Greeks from all around the globe are familiar with, Greek Independence Day. In this week's blog post, I will give a brief historical background, celebrate the home nation, and add a brief personal note about the founder of Nick's himself. Greeks are very prideful individuals. In fact, this past week, I saw an Instagram reel which showed data suggesting that Greeks are the proudest heritage in the world. If you are a Greek, or if you know Greeks, I am sure you can share that same sentiment. I am going to try and present the information without bias, as I too am prideful of my home country. Though I would like to say that Greece and Turkey have come a long way since then in being able to exist next to each other as separate nations. While there is still tension, I believe that in itself is an accomplishment for humanity. 

Greece is one of the oldest civilizations in world, when famous philosophers Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and more were influencing the human race light years before their time. As we moved into the mid 1000s, 1453 to be exact, (a long time ago, I know), Greece became a part of the Ottoman Empire and remained under their control for over 300 years. Then came the Revolutionary Era. Greece first tried to revolt in 1770, with the aid of Russia, but failed. This attempt, while a failure, put belief and hope in the minds of the Greek people. Then the United States broke through, gaining their independence from the British in 1776. Fourteen years later, the French underwent a successful revolution themselves, which was said to have a heavy influence on the Greeks, who were inspired by this movement. 

Fast-forward about thirty years, and the Greeks went again. The Greek revolt was precipitated on March 25, 1821, when Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the flag of revolution over the Monastery of Agia Lavra in the Peloponnese. The cry “Freedom or death” became the motto of the revolution. The Greeks got off to a quick start, successfully gaining control of Athens by June of 1822. Then came struggle, as the Greeks were unable to defend the islands and the main land at the same time. Eventually, by 1827, Athens was back under Ottoman control. As hope appeared to be fading, many around Europe began to sympathize with the Greeks and decided to offer aid in the revolution. Many leading intellectuals and poets, whom may have been thinking back to the influence Ancient Greece had, advocated for the Greeks. Great Britain, Russia, and France (who as mentioned already went through a successful revolution themselves) joined the Greek forces. With the added aid, the Ottoman fleet was wiped out at the Battle of Navarino, signaling the start of the end for the Ottoman Empire. Just two years later, in 1829, the Treaty of Edirne was signed, proclaiming Greece as an independent state, the Greeks had won. 

It is reasonable to speculate that the initial Greek revolution in 1770 served as influence for the Americans and the French. As stated in the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding (many times by Gus Portokalos), "everything comes from the Greeks". While that may not be true, Greek is one of the most deeply rooted languages, having influence on words which we hear today in English. Greece is the creator of democracy, as well as the birthplace of many of the most influential philosophers and architects. As expected, Greeks are very prideful of their history, and celebrating Independence Day is no exception. Towns and villages throughout Greece hold flag parades, schoolchildren dress up in traditional costume, and an armed forces parade is celebrated in Athens. 

The late Nick Mourtzakis (my pappou), founder of Nick's International Foods, celebrated his birthday on March 25th. To this day, we are not sure if this was his birthday (there is a significant lack of records) or if it was the only date which he knew to say, because of his pride for his country and their independence. 

Thank you for reading along, have a nice weekend. We will see you next week.

- Nick's

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