Celebrating the Greek Revolution of 1821

2021 is a highly symbolic year for Greece as it marks the 200th anniversary of the outbreak of the country’s Independence War against the Ottoman rule in 1821.

The Greek War of Independence led to the establishment of the Modern Greek state. Celebrated on March 25th as a National holiday, the Greek Revolution, as it’s commonly known, constitutes an integral part of the Greek national identity and historical memory, and forms a pivotal chapter in both the country’s and Europe’s history.

What started on March 25, 1821, when Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the flag of revolution over the Monastery of Agia Lavra in the Peloponnese, soon escalated into a full-blown, nation-wide independence struggle inspired by the ideology of the Enlightenment and the principles of Romanticism.

Freedom or death” became the motto of the revolution.

Just as the revolution appeared to be on the verge of failure, Great Britain, France, and Russia intervened. 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, the combined British, French, and Russian forces destroyed an Ottoman-Egyptian fleet.

Russia invaded the Ottoman Empire and forced it to accept Greek autonomy in the Treaty of Adrianople (1829). After years of war, Greece was finally recognized as an independent state under the London Protocol of February 1830. Further negotiations in 1832 led to the London Conference and the Treaty of Constantinople; these defined the final borders of the new state and established Prince Otto of Bavaria as the first king of Greece.

Greek Independence Day coincides with the Greek Orthodox Church’s celebration of the Annunciation to the Theotokos, when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would bear the son of God.

While celebrating the Greek Independence Day, towns and villages throughout Greece hold a school flag parade, during which school children march in traditional Greek costume.

The Meaning of the Revolution in 2021

The celebration of the 200 years since the outbreak of the Greek Revolution of 1821 and the War of Independence is a key historical event: it is both an occasion to recognize the struggles and sacrifices of our people, while it also requires us to think on the present-day position of our country and its future.