Monday, 25 March 2013

Independently independent

Today is Independence Day for Greece. A BIG national holiday and on Skopelos a day when just about everyone dresses to impress and gathers on the Paralia, the waterfront, to watch the parade and meet friends and family for coffee.
Women in traditional Skopelitan costume carry the Greek flag.

For Greece the particular piece of independence the day marks is fighting for freedom  from the Ottoman Empire over a period from 1821 to 1832. And here is a picture showing how it all started.
The old days.
Well perhaps Theodoros Vryzakis's painting can be accused of some artistic licence, he painted it about 30 years after the events it depicts, but it is meant to show Bishop Germanos of old Patras blessing the Greek banner at the start of the national revolt against the Turks in 1821 (thank you Wikipedia).

So does something that happened almost 200 years ago, still carry weight? You bet it does. Greek history is much more than all that sword and sandal stuff with Sparta, the Trojan wars and old temples. In the 20th century Greece has arguably had a bit more history than it could deal with. Bits added, bits taken away, wars, coups, invasion and general turmoil.

In this century things are still pretty bumpy and I suspect many Greeks are more than a little fed-up with being the focus of attention of some of their Eurozone colleagues. No names, no pack drill etc etc, but being told by the Smartypants with Europe's leading economy that "you must try harder" must grate after a while.

Those fighting for independence back in the early 19th century used as their rallying cry Ελευθερία ή θάνατοσ (freedom or death) and while that's probably going a bit far for modern tastes, I would hate to see this sometimes joyously eccentric country sacrifice very much more of its independence in the cause of global capitalism.
Their costumes honour the past, but the worry must be what
will the future hold for these children?

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