25th of March marks Annunciation of the Virgin Mary & Independence Day
The Hellenic War of Independence that liberated the country from the 400-year rule of the Ottoman Empire took place on the 25th of March in 1821, when Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the flag of revolution over the Monastery of Agia Lavra in the Peloponnese. The cry “Freedom or death” became the motto of the revolution. In Athens and all over the country, there are school and military parades to commemorate the day with Greek flags flying high over most houses.
The National Holiday coincides with the celebration of the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary by Archangel Gabriel who appeared before her and told her that she would bear the son of God. People attend church in the morning and afterward, they join the parades of flags and marching bands in the streets to revere in the day. A custom across the country on this day is the consumption of fried codfish with garlic sauce.
Related: The History of the Bakaliaros (Codfish)
The traditional dish with cod and "scordalia" (def. "garlic sauce") is the most well-known custom for the 25th of March National Anniversary. The Orthodox Church allowed Christians to eat fish only twice during the Great Lent - the first is at the Evangelismos celebration and on Palm Sunday. Cod was first shown as a commercial product, with its history deeply rooted along with the Vikings. In the cod trade, it was the Basques that played an immensely important role, who were the first to salt it in the Middle Ages. This fish arrived in Greece during the 15th Century and it became part of the Orthodox fastening dishes. Salted cod became the most popular dish amongst the country of Greece, not only on the islands – who already had fresh fish - but to the land dwellers as well, as it was cheap and very easy to cook. It was also Britain that exported this species to Greece, which they used to exchange for raisins.
In related news, on Friday 24/3, the center of Athens was filled with youth and smiles during the student parade for the National Anniversary of March 25th.
The student parade took place in the presence of representatives of the country's political leadership.
Earlier, wreaths were laid by the mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, the regional governor, Giorgos Paotilis, as well as party representatives.
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