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“Freedom or death“(Ελευθερία ή θάνατος). These are the first words that come in the mind of every Greek in the sound of this date. The 25th of March is both national and religious holiday for Greece. It is the date that our ancestors back in the 1821 started their revolution against the Ottoman Empire.
In 29th of May 1453 Constantinople (Istanbul) was under attack by the Turks. Fighting against them, Constantine XI Palaiologos (the last emperor) was killed and the city passed to the hands of the Turks. The Turkish sultan Mehmet the second captures the Constantinople (Κωνσταντινούπολη) and a difficult period, which lasted nearly 400 years, had just started for the Greeks. Greek churches are closing down and every Greek is forced to speak Turkish.
At that time, Greeks in order to maintain their language, their religion and their identity strong they created the secret schools. In these schools teachers where usually priests.
Many unorganized attempts against the Turks have failed during these years. In 1814 the “Philiki Etaiaria”(Friendly Society) is founded by Athanassios Tsakalof (Αθανάσιος Τακάλοφ), Emanuel Xanthos(Εμανοθήλ Ξάνθος) and Nikolaos Skoufas (Νικόλαος ΣΚουφάς). It was a secret society which had the aim to organize a Greek revolution against the Turks.
Ali Pasha’s rebellion against the sultan in 1820 gave the Greeks an opportunity they have been waiting for.
On March 25th the bishop Germanos of Patras (Παλαιόν Πατρών Γερμανός) raised the Greek flag at the monastery of Agia Lavra in Peloponnese(Πελοπόννησο), an act that marked as the beginning of the war. The war spread out throughout Peloponnese and afterwards in many island as well.
The war lasted for 9 years until the first small part of modern Greece was liberated. The struggle for the liberation of the rest of the land continued. In 1864 the Ionian islands were added to Greece. In 1881 part of Thessaly (Θεσσαλία). Crete Island (Κρήτη) and islands from the Eastern Aegean and Macedonia in 1913. After World War II the Dodecanese islands were also returned to Greece.
Our Greek ancestors fought bravely (γεναιά) and died for their and our freedom . After many years of sacrifices (θυσίες) Greece was again free.
In order to honor them, pupils and students dressed in the national colors (white and blue) and in traditional costumes make parades, celebrations and theatrical plays at schools.
Our national anthem (Εθνικός ύμνος) and the flag (σημαία) we have today , have been developed during the years of the revolution.
«Θέλει αρετήν και τόλμην η ελευθερία» (Freedom takes boldness and virtue)