Important Holidays in Greece February 08, 2015 00:00
There are two things Greeks like to celebrate - religious holidays, and their independence. Greece is a predominantly Orthodox Christian country, so the religious holidays that are celebrated as public holidays are all Christian. And for independence, Greece has a long history of people wanting to conquer it, and the Greeks standing up for themselves and their country.
The year in Greece starts with the New Year’s Day, the first public holiday of the year. The next important holiday, the Epiphany, is only five days away, on the 6th. Epiphany is a Christian holiday, and it celebrates two important days in the life of Jesus - the day when the three wise men came to see him, and the day when he was baptized by John the Baptist.
Clean Monday, also called Ash Monday, is the beginning of the Great Lent, a 40-day long fast which starts seven weeks before Easter. March 25 is the day Greeks celebrate their independence from the Ottoman Empire. The holiday marks the date when Greece declared their independence and started the Greek War of Independence in 1821, but it’s also the date of an important Christian holiday - the Annunciation. Good Friday and Good Monday, the Friday before Easter and the Monday following it, are also national holidays with a floating date.
May 1st is Labor Day, and it’s celebrated publicly in Greece. Whit Sunday and Whit Monday, which are observed 49 and 50 days, respectively, after Easter, are next in the line of important holidays celebrated in Greece. Dormition of the Holy Virgin is the most important Christian holiday which celebrates Virgin Mary. It falls on the 15th of August. Ochi Day is the day when Greece said “no” to the Italian ultimatum of 1940, and is celebrated as another important day for the independence of Greece on October 28. After Ochi Day, Greeks celebrate Christmas on December 25, and the Synaxis of the Mother of God on the next day.
Now you know the important dates for Greeks and Greece. If you’re fond of Greek culture, or you have blood ties to Greece, you can celebrate these holidays on your own, with your family, or in one of the many Greek communities in the United States. You will need to learn what to do for each holiday though, but if you’re willing to partake in some communal celebration, you’re sure to catch up quick.