Greek Independence Day - 25th March

Greek Independence Day is a national holiday throughout Greece, and is celebrated annually in Greece, on 25th March.  This day commemorates the start of the Greek War of Independence, which took place in 1821, as Greece had been part of the Ottoman Empire for nearly 400 years.  The Greek revolt was precipitated in March 1821, when Bishop Germanos of Old Patras blessed the flag of revolution at the Monastery of Aghia Lavra, near Kalavrita.  It coincided with the Greek Orthodox church's celebration of the Annuciation, when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she would bear the Son of God. The cry of "Freedom or Death" became the motto of the revolution.  The Greek fighters experienced early successes on the battlefield, including the capture of Athens in June 1822, but infighting ensued.  By 1827 most of the country had been recaptured.

Just as the revolution appeared to be on the verge of failure, Great Britain, France and Russia intervened in the conflict.  The Greek struggle had elicited strong sympathy in Europe and many leading intellectuals had promoted the Greek cause, including the English poet Lord Byron.  At the naval Battle of Navarino in October 1827, the combined British, French and Russian forces destroyed an Ottoman-Egyptian fleet, ending any hope of an Ottoman victory.  The main fighting of the revolution ended in 1829, however, it was the Treaty of Constantinopole in 1832 that officially established an independent Kingdom of Greece, with the young Bavarian prince, Othon, becoming the first King of Greece.  

Ermioni is a traditional working town that continues to celebrate this national holiday with pride. The day once again brought the community and visitors from afar to participate in the annual Independence Day.  Generally the day begins with mass at the 9th Century Byzantine Metropolis church of Taxiarches, meaning Archangels, in the old village.  The people stop and pay tribute at the Museum memorial to the two Mitsas brothers, Ermioni heroes of the Greek Revolution.  A procession then commences through the old village, led by the Ermionida brass band, down to the Limani harbour front, where speeches are given, poems are read and the laying of wreaths commence at the war memorial.  The event continues with the playing of national music and a parade past the towns dignitaries by the children and students of Ermioni, some in national costume.  The celebrations are followed by traditional music and dancing.