Greek Independence Day: Three Celebrations March 28, 2012 00:00

Just a few days ago, March 25, Greeks from all over the world and many here, in Chicago and the United States celebrated Greek Independence Day. No other ethnic group suffered as much as the Greeks did.

Imagine 400 hundred years of being occupied by the Ottoman Turks. Four hundred years!!! The Greeks became crafty to save their language and heritage by taking it underground, hidden away from the Turks. Such interesting history I must learn more about, but back to Chicago Greek Independence Day. This holiday is a dual celebrated day, not only for freedom but also for a religious occurrence. It's remembered as the day the Archangel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary she would become the mother of Jesus Christ. Can you imagine her surprise?

So yes, two (really three, keep reading) holidays in one day. Everyone has a reason to celebrate. How do Greeks celebrate? First they go to church. then go to a parade to show their patriotism. They fly the Greek flag. They wear pleated skirts with 400 folds, white tights, shoes with pompoms...all symbolic. I'd love to wear this costume (Evzone) as I'm selling my Greek gifts at festivals but, unless I lose about fifty pounds. my wife won't buy me the costume. As I have been told, it's not easy to go to the bathroom.

Greeks have parades on this day, but not in Chicago. A few years ago a Greek parade was planned and it was COLD, about 30 degrees with snow flurries. This year we will have to silence our yells...ZITO!!! (long live Greece) for another few weeks until the parade occurs.

The third reason to celebrate is a personal one. This year marks my 12th year of arriving here. I drove my green Honda Accord loaded with my belongings from California cross-country arriving in Chicago on March 25.