Tag Archives: Agia Lavra

Happy Greek Independence Day!

25 Mar


I’m trapped inside, working on my book today so it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to make it to the Greek parade today.  It looks rather grey out, but at least it will be cool for all the people marching in the parade.  My favorite are all the children dressed up in traditional Greek costume.  Too cute!  You can see my photos from last year here.

What’s the Greek parade for, you ask?  To celebrate Greek Independence Day, of course!  March 25 is Greek Independence Day.  Here’s a little history in case you’re new to my blog and missed it last year:

Greece was a strong empire, impacting language and culture around the world for much of ancient history.  Even after Greece fell to Roman rule, Greek thought and influence remained strong.  However, in 1453 the Byzantine Empire fell to the Ottoman Empire.

On March 25, 1821, Metropolitan Germanos of Patras raised a revolutionary flag under a tree outside of Agia Lavra, a monastery in the Peloponnese.  This wasn’t the first clash between the Greeks and the Ottoman Empire in those 400 years.  The Turks had burned monastery, which was built in AD 961, to the ground in 1585.  The Greeks rebuilt it in 1600 but then the Ottoman Empire armies of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt destroyed the church in 1715.  The Greeks rebuilt it again, and in 1821 Germanos gave an oath to the Greek fighters and raised the flag.  Pasha’s army destroyed Agia Lavra again in 1826.

The War for Independence lasted nine years.  Finally, on 1829, a small part of Greece was liberated.  Slowly, other parts of Greece were liberated.  On July 21, 1832, the Treaty of Constantinople, which put the Greek borders in writing, was signed, and on August 30, 1832, it was ratified.  Still, it wasn’t until after World War II that other Greek lands were returned to Greece.

You can read my full article on Agia Lavra, the church where the revolution began, in my Church Hopping column on Burnside Writers Collective.

Victory Hellas!


Is the Greek Flag More Prominently Displayed than Other Country Flags in the US?

5 Apr

Since we’ve been chatting about how the revolutionary flag was raised at Agia Lavra, I thought it would only be appropriate for us to talk next about the Greek flag itself.

When I was a kid, there used to be a house in Paramus that had a giant Greek flag painted on its garage.  Greeks love to show off their flag.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen another country flag so readily displayed in America.  I’ve seen the United States flag, the Confederate flag, and the flag of California (mainly on t-shirts), but I’ve rarely seen a non-US flag in America as often as I’ve seen the Greek flag.  We like our flag.

But how many of us actually know the meaning behind the Greek flag?

Galanolefki, “blue-white,” is the name of Greece’s flag.  Although no documents exist that explicitly state the reason for the chosen colors, most people agree that the blue is for the color of the Mediterranean Sea and the white is the waves.  Some have also suggested the blue and white are for the Greek sky.

In the upper left of the Greek flag is a white Greek cross on a blue background.  The Greek cross, also known as crux immissa quadrata, is perfectly parallel: all four arms are equal length.  Kind of like the symbol of the Red Cross.  The cross is, of course, representative of Greece’s Greek Orthodox faith.

In addition to the cross, the Greek flag hosts nine alternating blue and white horizontal stripes.  The top and the bottom stripes are both blue.

Remember how the Greeks shouted “Ελευθερία ή θάνατος” at the start of the revolution?  Well, popular theory has it that the nine stripes of the flag correspond to the nine symbols of the phrase: ” E-lef-the-ri-a i Tha-na-tos.”

Another theory is that the nine stripes stand for the nine letters in “Έλευθερία,” the Greek word for “freedom.”

It’s really quite beautiful when you understand the significance of each part of the Greek flag.

*  *  *

Ever wonder what it would be like to design your own flag??

Church Hopping: Agia Lavra

30 Mar

In case you missed it, here’s the link to my most recent Church Hopping entry on Burnside Writers Collective.  In this adventure, I bring you to Agia Lavra, the little church where the Greek revolution began.  Long before Facebook organized citizens, the Church was a place of social change.