Honoring the Greek Independence Day outside of Greece (by Emmanouela Tisizi)

Every year, on March 25, the Greek Independence Day is celebrated. This date marks the official start of the Greek Revolution in 1821, which ended eight years later with the Independence of Greece from the Ottoman Empire. People celebrate this day every year across Greece, with the parade being the capstone of all festivities. Students, cultural organizations, and people serving in the Greek army all participate in the parade to honor their ancestors and commemorate their achievements and sacrifices for the country.

The celebrations are not limited to the regions of Greece. Every year, the Evzones or Evzonoi, the members of the Greek Presidential Guard, participate in the parade honoring the Greek Independence on New York’s Fifth Avenue. Greeks who have emigrated also hold celebrations on March 25. There are festivities and parades in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide (Australia), New York City, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia (USA), Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver (Canada) to name a few.

Evzones marching on New York’s Fifth Avenue (2018)
source: hellenicsocieties.org

As a Greek-born, and as a recent emigrant to Canada, attending such festivities outside of Greece makes me very proud. When I attend such Greek Independence Day celebrations, I always feel moved by the way these people demonstrate their love for the country and its history. This day serves as a unique opportunity for members of the Greek diaspora to come together and celebrate their Greekness.  

Greek Independence Day celebration, Adelaide 2019
source: neoskosmos.com

This year, I attended the Greek parade in Montreal. The parade started at the corner of Jean-Talon and Hutchison streets around 13.30 on Sunday March 24, and the turnout was impressive, with more than 30,000 attendees. Students from all the schools that have been founded by the Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal marched in the parade and were joined by numerous cultural associations, Greek dance associations, and Hellenic scouting groups, among others. Many of the people who marched in the parade wore traditional Greek costumes and some held traditional Greek musical instruments. Young drummers beat the rhythm of the parade, and everyone marched proudly and waved the Canadian, Quebec and Greek flags. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also attended the parade, as he has done in years past.

Greek Independence Day Parade, Montreal 2019
source: Hellenic Community of Greater Montreal

After the parade, I had the chance to discuss with some of the people who participated in the parade. They all said that they are proud to be Greek Canadians and that they find this day of great importance, as it is their opportunity to gather with other Greek Canadians and honor the memory of those who fought for Greece’s Independence. However, this celebration is also important to them for another reason. According to them, participating in or attending the parade is a moral obligation, as it is their way to honor the first generations of Greeks who traveled to Canada all alone, and founded the Community. “We are proud to be Quebeckers, we are proud to be Canadians, and we are proud to be Greeks,” said a man. “This is a significant celebration for our Community, and a day when we Greeks come together as a big family,” said a woman. Indeed, this is a great day, when Greek tradition and heritage are celebrated by generations of Greeks here in Quebec and the world over.  





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