The Greek Revolution from the Ottomans started with a series of insurgence fighting, mostly from wild-eyed mountain men with the handlebar mustaches called “Kleftes.” The official, legendary start date is March 25, 1821, when Bishop Germanos of Patras raised a flag on Agia Lavra in Kalavryta (Kal-AH’-vree-ta) and shouted “Freedom or Death!!”
Remember reading about the famous once-weekly parade of Evzones? How it stirs the heart of a patriot? The National Day Parade is a turbo powered blender. Every man who’s ever served in the military will march in uniform, even if “marching” requires a wheelchair. Blue and white flags are waved, people cheer, the band plays, and in better economic times they would even roll out the tanks while jets flew overhead. (It’s likely that as with last year, those two costly demonstrations will be omitted from the day’s procession.)
By lunchtime, everyone piles into the tavernas for the national dish bakaliaro- fried salted cod- served with skordia, or garlic and bread/ potato ground to a pulp and drowned in olive oil. It’s lethal for vampires and anyone self-conscious of a little odor, but so long as you maintain solidarity with your dining companions, you’ll survive. We can be sure that if a place is open tomorrow, bakaliaro and skourdia will be on the menu, but eat early or risk getting a flat “Oxi- den ehoume.” (No, we don’t have.)
- The events surrounding the Parade will start up around 11am on Amelias Avenue and continue in front of Parliament, onto Panepistimiou Avenue.
- At the Athens Concert Hall, the Athens State Orchestra will be performing works by Georgios Sklavos, Manolis Kalomiris and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Show starts at 20:00- tickets ranging from 8-23 euros can be bought at the box office or online. Call: 210 728 2333.
LEARNING MORE ABOUT GREECE
There are two fantastic museums for lovers of history or anyone curious about what happened to Greece between the ancient times we’ve all read about in school and the modern country we know today:
Visit the the National History Museum housed in the city’s first parliament building. Weapons, old uniforms, costumes and parts of old warships are just some of the treasures you’ll find there, but by far the best feature is the well written placards helping us follow Greece’s story. For more information read the Local Flavor blog article, The Best Bit of Culture in Athens for $5.
In one of the oldest civilizations of the world, there are an awful lot of wars to keep track of. The War Museum does an admirable job through artifacts, old planes, archaic helicopters, and swords. Lots of swords.
Of course you’ll have to do this on a day other than March 25, as most museums will be closed. Take the day off from seeing things behind glass and get out there with the countrymen to see history in real life.