Greek Independence Day

Exhibition Panel

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.' Joanna

'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 together.' Joanna

'Music and dance go together in Greece . The circle, linking arms - strong, grass roots - saying 'We are a community. It's community.' Katrina

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 Karaiskakis.