25 March 1821 was the beginning of the Greek revolution against
the Ottoman Empire . In Australia , the Greek community gathers
on the nearest Saturday night. Around 100-200 people gather in
the Wollongong Greek Hall. Children are taught the historical
significance of the festivity at Saturday Language School , and
learn poems and songs for the occasion. Messages from the Greek
government are read out at the function.
'Independence Day is very important - Greeks have a memory of
a glorious history, some of it under Ottoman rule, and a modern
history of troubled dictatorships. To the older generation Independence
Day is the whole idea of separation. Everyone has childhood memories
of separation.' Katrina
'It's a big community event all over the world. It's a national
holiday and a religious day as well. We go to church in the morning
for Holy Communion, and lay a wreath on a memorial at the church.'
'In Greece the church and the state are together.' John
'The celebrations start in the afternoon - the kids get dressed
up and say poems. At night in the hall there are speeches, singing,
dancing. There are two Greek bands in Wollongong - they play mostly
traditional and national Greek music where the men and women dance
'Music and dance go together in Greece . The circle, linking arms
- strong, grass roots - saying 'We are a community. It's community.'
Photo 1 2 3 7: The Greek community
celebrates Independence Day through the words of poems and songs.
Everyone tries to dress in blue and white, the Greek national
colours, or in their national costume.
Photo 4 & 5: Joanna's handwritten
essay on Greek Independence Day by, and as it appeared in her
school magazine. 'I wrote this in 1954, the year I came to Australia
. I was in 3rd year at primary school in Cyprus . It is about
25 March, also the day God gave Mary a lily as a symbol and he
said 'You will have Jesus Christ - a man who is going to save
the people from sin.' I combined this with the day the Greeks
put up the flag to start the uprising.' Joanna
Photo 6: There is always a church
service. People bring an offering of five loaves to the church.
In this photo, the five candles in some of the loaves represent
the loaves and fishes that Jesus distributed. 'These days people
can't make five loaves - it's a lot of work. Some people bring
one and put five candles in it. The table will be full of bread.
The oil and wine is part of the blessing of the bread.' Joanna
Photo 8: The Greek hero Georgios