Tag Archives: Greek

The bicentennial anniversary of the War of Greek Independence

March 25th marked the bicentennial anniversary of the War of Greek Independence.  We rejoice: Zhto H Ellas! 

By George posts on the War of Greek Independence 

Reflecting on the bicentennial anniversary of the War of Greek Independence

A Synopsis of the War of Greek Independence

10 Facts: Greek Independence Day 

Celebrating 200 Years of Freedom – in Photos

Dionysios Solomos and the Hymn to Liberty

Lord Byron and his Support for the Greek Cause

Eugene Delacroix and The Massacre at Chios

A Victor’s Meal: Bakaliaros Skordalia

More on the war and on Greek heritage… 

Wikipedia: Greek War of Independence

Greek Reporter: The History of the Greek War of Independence

How the 1821 Greek Revolution Changed the World

Order of AHEPA: Greek War of Independence and America’s Contribution to the Greek Cause 

Poetry in Honour of the Bicentennial of Greek Independence

Wikipedia: Greek Canadians

Freedom or Death! Zhto H Ellas! 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Reflecting on the bicentennial anniversary of the War of Greek Independence

This year Hellenes around the world are celebrating the bicentennial anniversary of the War of Greek Independence.

March 25, 1821 is of historic importance as this day marks the beginning of a war that resulted in both the formation of the modern Greece nation and the revival of rich Hellenic culture. The war that ensued is a tale of an epic struggle of proud people whose cry for freedom was ultimately answered. It is a compelling war saga that shone a light on the heritage, religion, and core values of western civilization.

This war is often overlooked by historians and scholars. However, the unfolding events of the 1820’s raised western civilization to new heights. The struggle of the Hellenes was in fact an assertion for western European heritage, its foundational values, and Christian religion. The successful outcomes on the battlefields of Peloponnese and central Greece resulted in more than a new Nation. It also prompted a rebirth of western arts and culture, and the reaffirmation of Christianity for Europeans. In this way, this war was not just a Greco-Turkish conflict but a defining moment in the advancement of western civilization.

Hellenes, Greek diaspora, and philhellenes have good reason to rejoice the history of the War of Greek Independence. It’s a testament to the extraordinary Hellenic Spirit. The historical date of March 25, 1821 and the acts of courage that followed serve as an inspirational moment in time when an indomitable will that endured 400 years of darkness struck out against oppression. The Hellenes spirit emanated through the 1820’s to establish a homeland; it has carried forward to motivate tens of thousands of Greek immigrants in North America; and, it remains with Hellenes today, guiding and inspiring us wherever we may be.

Much can be learned by ruminating on the events and the significance of this war. It is why we must examine the details. This reflection feeds the Hellenic Spirit; it has the potential to reinvigorate our sense of being and Christian sense of belonging.

Such is the opportunity before us in recounting the war and its outcomes.

The War of Greek Independence is an historical event that has helped to define Hellenes as an enduring people who have known great suffering and have overcome hundreds of dark years of oppression. May we continue to learn from this pivotal period, from our ancestors’ feats and accomplishments, their character and their stirring vision. And as we reconnect with our history, these reflections are sure to inspire Hellenes for years to come.

Zhto H Ellas!

— Chris George, March 25, 2021

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

10 Facts: Greek Independence Day

1. Greek Independence Day is a national holiday celebrated annually in Greece on March 25, commemorating the start of the War of Greek Independence in 1821.  The “Greek Revolution” was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries against the Ottoman Empire between 1821 and 1830.

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2. In celebration of Greek Independence Day, towns and villages throughout Greece hold a school flag parade, during which schoolchildren march in traditional Greek costume and carry Greek flags. There is also an armed forces parade in Athens. Around the world, Greek emigrants and those of Greek descent also parade and conduct flag ceremonies in celebration of the 9-year victorious struggle to free their country.

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3. Greece had been part of the Ottoman Empire since 1453 with the Byzantine Empire fell to the Turks. Greeks remained under the Ottoman rule for nearly 400 years. Through these years, Orthodox Christians were granted some political rights, but they were considered inferior subjects. The majority of Greeks were called “Rayah” by the Turks, a name that referred to the large mass of non-Muslim subjects. However, through the centuries, Greek religion and their sense of Hellenism remained strong, as did the desire for some form of independence fostered, in large part, by the Greek Orthodox Church, as well as the survival of the Greek language.

4. The Greek revolt was precipitated on March 25, 1821, when Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the flag of revolution over the Monastery of Agia Lavra in the Peloponnese. Thus began the 9-year revolution for freedom.

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5. Here is a summary of the war. The Greeks experienced early successes on the battlefield, including the capture of Athens in 1822, but infighting ensued. By 1827 Athens and most of the Greek isles had been recaptured by the Turks. Just as the revolution appeared to be on the verge of failure, Great Britain, France, and Russia intervened in the conflict. At the naval Battle of Navarino in 1827, the combined British, French, and Russian forces destroyed an Ottoman-Egyptian fleet. A Greco-Turkish settlement was determined by the European powers at a conference in London and Greece was declared an independent monarchical state under their protection in 1830.

6. The struggle for the liberation of all the lands inhabited by Greeks continued. By mid-1832 the northern frontier of the new state had been set along the line extending from south of Volos to south of Árta. In 1864, the Ionian islands were added to Greece; in 1881 parts of Epirus and Thessaly. Crete, the islands of the Eastern Aegean and Macedonia were added in 1913 and Western Thrace in 1919. After World War II the Dodecanese islands were also returned to Greece.

7. The Greek struggle had elicited strong sympathy in Europe, and many leading intellectuals had promoted the Greek cause, including and most notably the English poet Lord Byron. His prestige and his role as a representative of the philhellenic London Committee (which raised both moral and financial support) came in a critical time for the course of the Greek cause. Lord George Byron also fought in the rebellious areas of Greece from December 1823 until 7 April 1824, when he died at Missolonghi.  Dionysios Solomos wrote a poem Ode on the Death of Lord Byron (first verse) which honours the poet and the liberal revolutionary:

For a moment, Liberty,
Let the war, the bloodshed sleep;
Hither come and silently
Over Byron’s body weep.

8. The popular cry “Freedom or Death” became the motto of the revolution and was constantly heard throughout the liberation. This war-cry is also a significant part of the Greek flag: it is believed that the nine lines of the flag reflects the number of syllables in the Greek phrase “Eleftheria i Thanatos” = Freedom or Death. Not only the flag, but the the Greek National Anthem “Hymn to Liberty” was born of the revolution. Dionysios Solomos wrote the lyrics in 1824, Nikolaos Mantzaros put it to music in 1828. (This English translation of the revolutionary ballad is by Rudyard Kipling in 1918.)

We knew thee of old,
Oh, divinely restored,
By the lights of thine eyes,
And the light of thy Sword,
From the graves of our slain,
Shall thy valour prevail,
As we greet thee again-
Hail, Liberty! Hail!
As we greet thee again-
Hail, Liberty! Hail!
As we greet thee again-
Hail, Liberty! Hail!

9. Greeks celebrate the 25th of March as a double holiday: a historical and a religious one. Independence Day coincides with the Greek Orthodox Church’s celebration of the Annunciation to the Theotokos, when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would bear the son of God.

10. A custom across the country on this day is to eat crispy, fried cod fish with garlic sauce (Bakaliaros skordalia). This has to do with the Lent before Eastern, where no animals or animal products should be eaten. However the Orthodox Church allowed an exception for the celebration of the Annunciation and that it the Cod fish! Here is the recipe for Bakaliaros skordalia.

Sources (and further reading):

Encyclopaedia Britannica on Greek Independence Day and War of Greek Independence

Wikipedia

Keep Talking Greece

Crete History

Lord Byron

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A Victor’s Meal: Bakaliaros Skordalia

For the Greeks’ celebratory meal on the 25th, it is custom to eat crispy, fried cod fish with garlic sauce. Here are a few recipes…

Ingredients

  • 1-pound salt cod fillet or fresh/frozen codfish quick cured
  • Flour for dredging
  • Oil for frying

For the Batter

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoons salt
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces of sparkling water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Garnish

  • lemon wedges and parsley

For the Skordalia

  • 2-3 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth plus more water to boil potatoes
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, grated
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • If you are using salted dried cod for this dish, then, soak the cod for at least 24 hours in cold water and keep it refrigerated. Change the water 3-4 times to extract the salt.
  • Quick Salt Cure Fish:Sprinkle lots of salt (about 6-7 teaspoons or more) over both sides of the codfish. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over the fish and set aside for at least 30 minutes. Soak the fish in ice-cold water and pat dry. Place the fish on paper towels to absorb any moisture.
  • Make the Skordalia:
  • Place the potatoes in a pot and cover them with vegetable stock, water and season with salt. Bring to a boil and cook until fork tender.
  • Place the potatoes in a colander to drain and reserve 1-2 cups of the stock.
  • Pass the potatoes through a ricer or mash them in a large bowl.
  • Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, and grated garlic in a small mixing bowl and whisk until incorporated. Pour the marinade over the mashed potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Mix until smooth. Pour 1-2 cups of the potato boiling liquid into the mashed potatoes to thin the dip to your desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Make the Cod Fritters:
  • Heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan to 360 °F. 180 °C.
  • Combine the fish batter ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together until smooth.
  • Make sure that the fish is very dry.
  • Place some flour into a shallow bowl or dish to dredge the fish.
  • Dredge the cod pieces in the flour then dip into the batter.
  • Carefully place the battered cod into the hot oil and fry until golden on all sides.
  • Place the cod fritters on a tray lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
  • Garnish with parsley.
  • Serve immediately with the Skordalia and some lemon wedges.

This recipe is from Dimitra’s Dishes

Here is another (similar) recipe, but one that also provides some history and background on the dish. Enjoy the recipe from Kalofagas.

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

A Synopsis of the War of Greek Independence

An Overview 

The War of Greek Independence raged for more than nine years. It was a bloody series of skirmishes and naval battles, and heartless massacres. The conflict lasted much longer than anyone expected, and it involved more hardship and death than the Hellenic patriots imagined when they first declared war. Throughout the 1820’s the war’s outcome was never certain. In every way this war was a struggle.

Yet, the Hellenic cause to slip free from 400 years of slavery was ultimately realized with the intervention of European powers. A Greek-Turkish settlement signed in London in 1830 declared a new nation to be carved out of the Ottoman Empire. Greece was placed on the map of Europe and Hellenes would have their freedom.

The Ottoman Rule and the Phlliki Etairia

Hellenes were enslaved by Ottoman masters for nearly four hundred years, since the year 1453 when the Byzantine Empire fell to the Turks. The Ottomans’ reign over the Balkan territories proved especially hard for Hellenes — non-Muslim subjects of Orthodox Christian faith.

This is a truly dark age in our peoples’ history. Hellenes were subjected to the worst acts of systematic oppression. They were treated as inferior and suffered reduced liberties and senseless cruelties. The most egregious acts of slavery had the Turk overlords regularly gathering all young boys to enlist them in training for the Turkish military.

However, for generations the Hellenic Spirit endured — preserved and nurtured largely by the Greek Orthodox Church. Although restrictions were placed on the Church, subjected Hellenes maintained the Greek language and a sense of their heritage – and an independence – with the teachings of their priests.

Through the 1700s there were also learned scholars who helped to sow the seeds of independence. In evenings, often in secret gatherings, the scholars taught their pupils the Greek language and culture. One of the notorious teachers was Adamantios Koraes of Chios who is credited with laying the foundations of Modern Greek literature. Koraes was a humanist scholar who had witness the French Revolution and took his primary intellectual inspiration from the Enlightenment. He instilled in his pupils the hope for a new Hellenic classicism that would arise after the passing of the dark years of Ottoman suppression.

Another scholar of note that help advance a modern Greek Enlightenment was Rigas Feraios. He was a political thinker and writer who penned poems and books about Greek history. Although he died in 1798, Feraios is widely recognized as a pioneer of revolutionary thought, instilling hope and dreams of a better tomorrow. Today he is remembered as a national hero for his inspirational battle-hymn Thourios.

Though the Ottomans attempted to suppress all teachings of Greek culture, through the Church and the teachings of the scholars, the Hellenes heritage and language survived.

In 1814, a secret society of revolutionaries, the Phlliki Etairia (Friendly Brotherhood) was founded with an aim of liberating Hellenes from Turkish rule. In a short time the Phlliki Etairia had a presence in all regions of Greece. Today, the leaders of this society are regaled as heroes: great men who fanned the embers of revolutionary ideas and provided hope for a better tomorrow. Phlliki Etairia leaders included Theodore Kolokotronis, Petrompes Mavromichalis, Andreas Zaimis, Andreas Lentos, the Metropolites Palaion Patron Germanos, and Gregorios Papaflesas – all leaders dedicated to freedom from the Ottoman Empire.

The Philiki Etairia “revolution” had no geographical objectives but rather a spiritual basis that was centred in a cry for freedom from oppression. It was also a cry for Christianity and Hellene values. In 1820 plans for an insurrection were drafted, and by 1821 the Philiki Etairia were organized to strike.

 Spring 1821 in Peloponnese and Heralding Independence

In late March, Greek patriots successfully captured the towns of Kalavrita, Kalames and Mani. The legendary account of the start of the war reads that on March 25, 1821 Bishop Germanos of Patras blessed and raised a flag of revolution over the Monastery of Agia Lavra in the Peloponnese and the fight for freedom was declared.

Patras was successfully taken and Lala, Corinth, Monemvasia, Navarino, Argos, and Nauplion were soon besieged by the patriots. With this flurry of attacks, Greeks heralded their independence.

The Ottoman response to the declarations was swift and brutal. The Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople Gregory V was taken from the cathedral on Easter Sunday, April 22nd and hung on the orders of the Sultan. In the following weeks there were executions of multiple clergies and bloody massacres throughout the Ottoman Empire. In Kydonia, Ionia, there was an estimated 25,000 Greeks killed, and in Thessaloniki the Turkish governor ordered every Greek be killed.

One of the most horrific massacres occurred on the island of Chios in April 1822. The Turkish military massacred 42,000 men, women and children, and nearly 50,000 were enslaved and 23,000 exiled. In the end, only 2,000 citizens remained on an island that once was prosperous with 117,000 inhabitants.

On the battlefields, the Turkish military answered the call in the Peloponnese by reclaiming some of the early lost territory. However, the Turks met the main Greek patriot force at Valtetsi and was soundly defeated. Greek morale soared even higher when patriots withstood a 4,000-strong Turkish force outside of Veivena. Meanwhile, at sea, Greek fleets achieved some successes against the Ottoman navy that prevented military reinforcements to arrive through the Aegean Sea. As a result, by 1822 the flag of the Greek patriots flew again over Navarino, Monemvasia, and Corinth and much of the Peloponnese.

It was less than two years into the conflict and already much blood had been spilt on both sides.

In the early years the Greeks experienced many successes. When the patriots declared independence in the Peloponnese, the Turks unsuccessfully attempted to take back the region three times between 1822 through 1824. The Greek forces surged to capture and hold Athens in 1822. Though successful on the battlefields, it was the Greeks’ own infighting and civil unrest that stole their lasting victory.

In 1825, fortunes began to turn against the Greeks with the arrival of Egyptian forces to bolster the beleaguered Turkish military. With the support of the Egyptian navy, in 1826 the Turks recaptured Missolonghi and Athens, and then in June 1827 they scaled the Athenian Acropolis to raise the Ottoman flag over the Parthenon.

The European Intervention and a New Independent State

Just as the war seemed lost, western European allies decided to come to the aid of the Greek cause. Stirred by the works and first-hand accounts of popular artists and thinkers, Europeans overwhelmingly sympathized with the Hellenes and their struggle. In turn, Great Britain, France, and Russia agreed to intervene in the war. In July 1827 the Treaty of London was signed; it called on Greek and Ottoman forces to cease all fighting. When the Turks declined the settlement, the European powers sent naval fleets and men to end the conflict.

On October 20, 1827 the infamous naval Battle of Navarino took place in the Ionian Sea in which the European powers crushed the Ottoman and Egyptian navies. This was a spectacular naval battle, the last one in history to be fought entirely with sailing ships.

French troops joined with the Greek patriots to defend the Peloponnese and retake central Greece. Together the French and patriot forces pushed the Turkish troops from central and southern Greece. Then, Russia in initiated the Russo-Turkish War (1828–29), a bloody Balkan conflict that diverted Ottoman troops away from Greece. The result of this combined pressure on land and at sea had the Turks agree in 1829 to a treaty that ceded the disputed territory to the Greeks.

Greece was officially recognized as an independent state on February 3, 1830 with the signing of the London Protocol. That settlement was determined and agreed to by the European Powers and the Ottomans, and adopted without a Greek signature. The new country of Greece was to be an independent monarchical state under the protection of Britain, France and Russia. Later in July 1832, the Treaty of Constantinople was signed in which the final borders of the new state were established and Prince Otto of Bavaria was crowned Head of State. 

At this time, Greece had no more than 800,000 people in the new state; there remained 2.5 million Hellenes residing throughout the Ottoman Empire. Finally, after hundreds of years of oppression and a decade of fighting, Hellenes had a place to call home.

 

For more information on Wikipedia:

The Greek War of Independence

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Dionysios Solomos and the Hymn to Liberty

Dionysios Solomos is commonly referred to as the “national poet” of Greece. He is best known for writing the inspirational Hymn to Liberty that recounts Hellenes dream of freedom.

In 1863 he wrote this poem of the bloody beginnings of the war, the patriots’ Christian character, and of the struggle.

The poem is a significant legacy of the War of Greek Independence. Nikolaos Mantzaros put the first two stanzas of the verse to music in 1828 and, decades later in 1865, this war-time ballad became the Greek national anthem.

Here is a rough translation of the leading stanzas of the verse.

I recognize you by the fearsome sharpness,
of the sword,
I recognize you by your face
that hastefully defines the land (the borders)

From the sacred bones,
of the Hellenes arisen,

and valiant again as you once were,
Hail, o hail, Liberty!

and valiant again as you once were,
Hail, o hail, Liberty!

Here is a rendition of the Greek National Anthem.

In 1918 poet Rudyard Kipling translated the ballad to become familiar to English speaking peoples around the world.

We knew thee of old,
Oh, divinely restored,
By the lights of thine eyes,
And the light of thy Sword,
From the graves of our slain,
Shall thy valour prevail,
As we greet thee again-
Hail, Liberty! Hail!
As we greet thee again-
Hail, Liberty! Hail!
As we greet thee again-
Hail, Liberty! Hail!

For more information from Wikipedia:

Dionysios Solomos

Hymn to Liberty

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Lord Byron and his Support for the Greek Cause

Lord Byron was one of the most renowned English poets of the Romantic Era and he is the most celebrated philhellene volunteer of the War of Greek Independence.

Lord Byron travelled to the theatre of war in 1822, providing funds and supplies. His enchanting verse and vocal advocacy for the Hellenes stirred many to the Greek cause.

In Messolonghi in 1824, while preparing to lead patriots into battle, fell fatally ill. Upon his untimely death Greek poet Dionysios Solomos wrote Ode on the Death of Lord Byron in which the first verse reads:

  For a moment, Liberty,
Let the war, the bloodshed sleep;
Hither come and silently
Over Byron’s body weep.

Lord Byron’s presence in Greece, and in particular his death, created an even stronger sympathy for the Greek cause across Europe. As a direct result of his passing, philhellenic committees sprang up in Europe and the United States to raise money for war efforts and further relief of the Greek people.

Lord Byron died a national hero and Hellenes to this day revere him. Here is a statue in his honour in Athens.

Byron often wrote of the beauty and majesty of Greece… and this is two stanzas from one of his poems evoking the glory of the Greeks’ past to deliver them a victory in the War of Greek Independence.

The Isles of Greece

The mountains look on Marathon —
And Marathon looks on the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,
I dream’d that Greece might yet be free
For, standing on the Persians’ grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.

Must we but weep o’er days more blest?
Must we but blush? – Our fathers bled.
Earth! render back from out thy breast
A remnant of our Spartan dead!
Of the three hundred grant but three,
To make a new Thermopylae.

For more information from Wikipedia and British Literature Wiki:

Lord Byron

The Isles of Greece

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Eugene Delacroix and The Massacre at Chios

The great French Romantic painter Eugene Delacroix had a profound impact stirring European’s empathy for Greek civilians’ suffering at the hands of the Turkish military.

Delacroix’s masterpiece The Massacre of Chios provoked international outrage and led to increased support for the Greek cause worldwide. It caused an outcry in the French public and placed much pressure on the French Government to intervene in the war and take up arms to defend the Hellenes.

Delacroix’s focus of work was one of the most horrific massacres of the War of Greek Independence. The horror occurred on the island of Chios in April 1822. The Turkish military killed 42,000 men, women and children, enslaved nearly 50,000 and exiled another 23,000. In the end, only 2,000 citizens remained on a decimated island that once was prosperous with 117,000 inhabitants.

Studying the faces one sees the despair of the dying civilians at the mercy of a slaughter by Turkish horsemen. In the foreground is a baby laying on his dying mother –- as disturbing today as it was for the audiences who were moved by the painting in the 1820’s.

More information on Wikipedia:

Eugene Delacroix

The Massacre at Chios Massacre

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

Greek Kourambiedes – “The” Christmas Cookie

Ingredients

Beat on medium speed until lightened in color and creamy:
3/4 pound unsalted butter, softened & 1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat until very fluffy and well blended:
2/3 cup powdered sugar & 1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons brandy & 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

And then gradually add and stir until well blended and smooth:
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 cup Ground Almonds (optional)

Instructions

1. Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm enough to shape into balls, about 1 hour.

2. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease cookie sheets.

3. Pull off pieces of the dough and roll between your palms into generous 1-inch balls. Space about 1 inch apart on the sheets.

4.  Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until the cookies are faintly tinged with brown, 14-18 minutes; rotate the sheet halfway through baking for even browning. Remove the sheet to a rack and let stand until the cookies firm slightly. Gently transfer to racks to cool completely.

5.  Sift over the cookies until evenly coated: 1/3 cup powdered sugar.

6.  If desired, 1 cup ground almonds may be added to this recipe. If you do add the ground almonds, stir in after you have added the vanilla or almond extract, then continue with recipe.

Makes about 4 dozen (1 1/4 inch) cookies.

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Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

Celebrating Oxi Day

On this day Hellenes cry out “Oxi!” 

Here is background on the genesis of this historic day in Greece and what it means for Hellenes in Canada and around the world.

First, here’s a little local Canadian history…. in 2016, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson received a delegation from the AHEPA Ottawa Chapter to celebrate “Oxi Day”.  Read more about the honour the Mayor bestowed upon Greek-Canadians in Ottawa and across the country:

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Oxi Day is October 28 on the calendar, a national holiday in Greece and recognized by Greeks around the world as a day to remember Hellenic values and the courageous words and deeds of those who fought for Greece and all of democracy in the early, dark days of WWII.

AHEPA Ottawa Chapter wishes to raise the attention of this day to Ottawa residents, those of Greek heritage and all of our community’s citizens. Oxi Day is a day to reflect on the strength of the human spirit when confronted with an impossible situation; and to appreciate the price that, at times, must be paid to stand up for one’s principles, values, rights and freedom. (More on the Order of AHEPA.)

On the Genesis of Oxi Day

Oxi Day commemorates the anniversary when former military general and Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas said, “No” to an ultimatum made by Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini to allow Italian forces to occupy strategic locations in Greece. In response to Metaxas’s refusal, Italian troops attacked the Greek border. On the morning of 28 October, the Greek population took to the streets, shouting “oxi” (pronounced O-hee).

The superior Italian army had initial success but the Greeks pushed the Italian army back into Albania.  This was the first land defeat of the Axis forces in WWII, and it provided a ray of hope for democracies worldwide.  Churchill wrote “Greeks do not fight like heroes; heroes fight like Greeks.” Mussolini was embarrassed and had to call Hitler for help. Greek and British forces continued to fight and decimate German troops, until Greece surrendered six months later.

This stand against the Axis Forces was truly remarkable and is recorded as the greatest resistance against Nazi blitzkrieg in WWII. Greek and later British forces withstood 219 days of invading forces. In total 13,696 Greek soldiers died before the Nazis raised the swastika flag over the Parthenon. (In comparison, France fell in 43 days; Poland in 30; Belgium in 18; the Netherlands 4; and Norway in 7.)

Hitler observed: “For the sake of historical truth I must verify that only the Greeks, of all the adversaries who confronted us, fought with bold courage and highest disregard of death.” The extent of casualties in Greece caused Hitler to delay an attack on Russia, thus subjecting his troops to harsh winter conditions and contributing to the defeat of Germany.

See more here: Quotes and Memes Honouring Oxi Day

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

The Greek way

Some years ago a small rural town in Spain twinned with a similar town in Greece.

The mayor of the Greek town visited the Spanish town. When he saw the palatial mansion belonging to the Spanish mayor, he wondered aloud how on earth he could afford such a house.

The Spaniard replied, “You see that bridge over there? The EU gave us a grant to construct a two-lane bridge, but by building a single lane bridge with traffic lights at either end, I could build this place.”

The following year the Spaniard visited the Greek town. He was simply amazed at the Greek mayor’s house: gold taps, marble floors, diamond doorknobs, it was marvelous.

When he asked how he’d raised the money to build this incredible house, the Greek mayor said, “You see that bridge over there?”

The Spaniard replied, “No.”

 

(ed. – Thank you to my friend Dick Inwood who is very good at keeping us all laughing.)

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Greek Wisdom

On our Facebook page through this past week, By George has featured sage Greek sayings from some of the world’s greatest classic philosophers and leaders. Below you will find five of our FAVs.

“Like” By George Facebook to see the full selection of Greek Wisdom (to be featured through next week as well).

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Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a trusted executive assistant, a communications can-do guy, or a go-to-scribe? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

The Wisdom of Epictetus

  • EpictetusFirst say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do. 
  • Try not to react merely in the moment.  Pull back from the situation.  Take a wider view.  Compose yourself.
  • It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.
  • Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.
  • When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you can either accept it or resent it.
  • Ask yourself:  Does this appearance (of events) concern the things that are within my own control or those that are not?  If it concerns anything outside your control, train yourself not to worry about it.
  • Don’t demand or expect that events happen as you would wish them do.  Accept events as they actually happen.  That way, peace is possible.
  • Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.
  • No matter where you find yourself, comport yourself as if you were a distinguished person.
  • Ask yourself, “How are my thoughts, words and deeds affecting my friends, my spouse, my neighbour, my child, my employer, my subordinates, my fellow citizens?”
  • Imagine for yourself a character, a model personality, whose example you determine to follow, in private as well as in public. 
  • What is a good person?  One who achieves tranquility by having formed the habit of asking on every occasion, “what is the right thing to do now?”
  • We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. 
  • He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.

 

The stoic philosopher Epictetus was a Greek-born slave of Rome in the first century. 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

On politics – wisdom of the ancient Greeks

  • platoThey should rule who are able to rule best. – Aristotle
  • This City is what it is because our citizens are what they are. – Plato
  • A state is not a mere society, having a common place, established for the prevention of mutual crime and for the sake of exchange…. Political society exists for the sake of noble actions, and not of mere companionship. – Aristotle
  • The basis of a democratic state is liberty. – Aristotle
  • Democracy… is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder; and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike. – Plato
  • If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost. – Aristotle
  • That judges of important causes should hold office for life is a disputable thing, for the mind grows old as well as the body. – Aristotle
  • Even when laws have been written down, they ought not always to remain unaltered. – Aristotle
  • There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands. – Plato
  • One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. – Plato

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Kourambiedes-Greek Christmas Cookies

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Here is a wonderful recipe of a cookie that is a favourite in every Greek household at this time of the year (well, at any time of the year!).

Mixing the ingredients

Beat on medium speed until lightened in color and creamy:
3/4 pound unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat until very fluffy and well blended:
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Gradually add and stir until well blended and smooth:
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup Ground Almonds* see note below (optional)

Instructions

1. Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm enough to shape into balls, about 1 hour.

2. Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease cookie sheets.

3. Pull off pieces of the dough and roll between your palms into generous 1-inch balls. Space about 1 inch apart on the sheets.

4. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until the cookies are faintly tinged with brown, 14-18 minutes; routate the sheet halfway through baking for even browning. Remove the sheet to a rack and let stand until the cookies firm slightly. Gently transfer to racks to cool completely.

5. Sift over the cookies until evenly coated: 1/3 cup powdered sugar

6. If desired, 1 cup ground almonds may be added to this recipe. If you do add the ground almonds, stir in after you have added the vanilla or almond extract, then continue with recipe.

This recipe makes about 4 dozen (1 1/4 inch) cookies.

 

Ottawa Mayor proclaims Oxi Day

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His Worship Mayor Jim Watson officially proclaimed October 28th as “Oxi Day” for the residents of Ottawa. The proclamation states:

Whereas, each year on this date, people of Hellenic heritage around the world celebrate the anniversary of the infamous WWII response “Oxi” by a besieged Greek Nation to the aggression of the Axis powers; and

Whereas, this triumph of human spirit over tyranny, demonstrated by Greeks in their hour of darkness, has endured as a shining example for all free people and nations in our world to stand and defend the ideals of freedom, justice and liberty; and 

Whereas, in the Ottawa Region, the AHEPA Ottawa Chapter promotes the recognition of and appreciation for the values of Hellenism, as so profoundly captured in the Greek response of “Oxi”;  

Therefore, I, Jim Watson, Mayor of the City of Ottawa, do hereby proclaim October 28, 2016 Oxi Day in Ottawa.

Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

Oxi Day in the Nation’s Capital

Today Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson recognized Oxi Day with a delegation from the AHEPA Ottawa Chapter. Below is the release issued by AHEPA Ottawa. (To mark this special day with the Mayor at City Hall.  By George is posting background articles on the significance of Oxi Day for Hellenes in Canada and around the world.  Click: 1. A short history of Oxi Day. 2. Quotes and Memes by world leaders.)

 

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Mayor Jim Watson officially proclaims Oxi Day for City of Ottawa

AHEPA Ottawa Chapter thanks Mayor for recognizing ideals of Hellenism

October 28, 2016 — Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson met with a delegation from AHEPA Ottawa this morning to recognize “Oxi Day” honouring the courageous deeds of those who fought for all of democracy in Greece in the early, dark days of WWII.

This day commemorates the anniversary when Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas said, “No” to an ultimatum made by Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini. In response to this refusal, Italian troops attacked the Greek border. On the morning of October 28th, the Greek population took to the streets, shouting “oxi” in defiance.

His Worship Mayor Watson officially proclaimed October 28th as “Oxi Day” for the residents of Ottawa. The proclamation states:

Whereas, each year on this date, people of Hellenic heritage around the world celebrate the anniversary of the infamous WWII response “Oxi” by a besieged Greek Nation to the aggression of the Axis powers; and

Whereas, this triumph of human spirit over tyranny, demonstrated by Greeks in their hour of darkness, has endured as a shining example for all free people and nations in our world to stand and defend the ideals of freedom, justice and liberty; and 

Whereas, in the Ottawa Region, the AHEPA Ottawa Chapter promotes the recognition of and appreciation for the values of Hellenism, as so profoundly captured in the Greek response of “Oxi”;  

Therefore, I, Jim Watson, Mayor of the City of Ottawa, do hereby proclaim October 28, 2016 Oxi Day in Ottawa.

The AHEPA Ottawa delegation was pleased the Mayor marked this anniversary recognizing Hellenic values and the significance of man’s struggles for liberty, justice and freedom. AHEPA Ottawa Chapter President Nikos Hatzitheodosiou said, “This day is a shining example in our modern history of a defiant stand against the evils of tyranny and aggression. The bravery displayed in Greece in 1940 gave all democratic people hope and resolve to fight for their values and ideals.”

“Much has been sacrificed in our collective history so that we can enjoy our freedoms in the western world. We can’t forget this, nor take it for granted,” said Mr. Hatzitheodosiou.

The AHEPA (American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association) mission is to promote the ancient Greek ideals of education, philanthropy, civic responsibility, and family and individual excellence through community service and volunteerism. AHEPA is the largest and oldest grassroots association of citizens of Greek heritage with over 400 chapters across the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia.

The AHEPA Ottawa Chapter is active in its philanthropic and educational activities and has a history of donating to local causes, most recently to Ottawa Heart Institute and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). It also raises money for children’s organizations in Greece and last year organized the donation of hospital beds from CHEO to a Greek hospital in need. Each year the Chapter provides scholarships for post-secondary pursuits to students of Greek heritage as well as financial support to scholastic and cultural activities within Ottawa’s Greek community.

~ Chris George, AHEPA Ottawa Chapter Secretary

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Chris George is an Ottawa-based government affairs advisor and wordsmith, president of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. Contact: ChrisG.George@gmail.com

 

 

Quotes & Memes Honouring Oxi Day

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Here are observations by some of the world leaders of the 1940s as the Greek army withstood the Italian and German forces as well as the armies of neighbouring Bulgaria and Albania. (By George encourages you to right-click on the memes, save and share via social media on October 28th.)

“The word heroism, I’m afraid, does not reflect in the least the Hellenes’ acts of self-sacrifice that were the defining factor of the victorious ending of all the nations’ common struggle during the 2nd WW for human freedom and dignity.” – Sir Winston Churchill

“If it were not for the bravery of the Hellenes and their courageous hearts, the ending of the 2nd WW would not have been clear.” – Sir Winston Churchill

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“Until now we were saying that Hellenes fight like heroes. Now we will say: Heroes fight like Hellenes.” – Sir Winston Churchill

‘The Hellenes” in fighting against the common enemy will share with us in the prosperity of peace.” – Sir Winston Churchill

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“As a matter of historical truth, I must ascertain that only the Hellenes, of all the adversaries that confronted me, fought with daring courage and the highest disregard to death… ” – Adolph Hitler

“I fail to give the most needed gratitude that I feel for the heroic resistance of the people and the leaders of Hellas.” – Charles DeGaulle

“Hellas is the symbol of martyric, enslaved, bleeding, but live Europe.  Never has a defeat been so honorable for those who underwent it.” – Maurice Schumann (French Minister of Foreign Affairs)

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“I’m sad because I’m getting old and I will not live much longer to express my gratitude to the Hellenic people whose resistance deter­mined WW II.  You fought unarmed and won, small against big… You gave us time to defend ourselves. As Russians and as fellow humans, we thank you.” – Soviet Leader Josef Stalin

“If the Russian people man­aged to raise resistance before the gates of Moscow, to contain and reverse the German hurricane, they owe it to the Hellenic people who delayed the German divisions that could have beaten us. The gigantic battle of Crete was the peak of the Hellenic contribution.” – Georgy Joucov (Marshall of the Soviet Army)

“… the war in Greece proved that anything can be shattered, with respect to the military, and that sur­prises always await us.” – Italian Prime Minister Benito Mousolini

“The great struggle of Hellas was the first big detour for the 2nd WW.” – King George VI

“It would not be an exaggeration to say that Hellas overturned all the German plans forcing Germany to delay for 6 weeks its attack on Russia. We ask ourselves what would have been the position of the Soviet Union without Hellas.” – Sir Harold Alexander (British Marshall)

“Regardless what historians will say in the future, what we can say now is that Hellas gave a memorable lesson to Mussolini, that she was the reason of the resistance in Yugoslavia, that she kept the Germans on the soil of Ipiros and Crete for 6 weeks, that she changed the chronological order of all of the German Major Generals’ plans and, thus, brought about a general alteration in the entire war’s journey and we won.” – Sir Robert Anthony Eden

“For Hellas there was granted a delay of 3 hours on the 28th of October 1940 so that she can decide on war or peace, but, even if a delay of 3 days or 3 weeks or 3 years was granted, the answer would have been the same.” – U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt

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“The Hellenes have taught dignity throughout the centuries (history). When the entire world had lost all hope, the Hellenic people dared to doubt the German monster’s invincibility fighting back with the proud spirit of freedom.” – U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt

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“The heroic struggle of the Greek people to defend their liberties and their homes against the aggression of Germany after they had so signally defeated the Italian attempt at invasion has stirred the hearts and aroused the sympathy of the whole American people.” – U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt to the AHEPA Supreme Lodge in 1941

 

(ed. – Click here to read more On the Order of AHEPA.)

Chris George, providing reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

Lesbos: providing renewed faith in humanity

Lesbos,_GreeceIf you have been preoccupied with the thrills of the Olympic Games, or with the U.S. presidential race to the bottom, you may have missed the recent dramatic happenings on a small Aegean island, Lesbos. The daily drama and the endless stories of compassion and hope are amazing. On this island, our faith in mankind can be renewed; faith personified in simple acts of kindness and understanding that span race and religion.

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With the post-failed-coup crisis unfolding in Turkey, there has been a new wave of refugees wash ashore the beaches of Lesbos. Or, more accurately, hundreds of new souls have been plucked from overcrowded rafts into the arms of Greek fisherman and coast guards to be taken in by the people of this generous Greek island.

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Through the past year-and-a-half hundreds of thousands of refugees have sought escape and arrived on the island of Lesbos. Today, to mark their Herculean efforts, there is a eerie monument that continues to grow… A Cemetery of Life Vests But Not Lives.

     Unlike islands elsewhere, Lesbos discards thousands of life vests every day. They litter its eastern and northern shores, coloring the beaches or floating aimlessly on the azure waters. For months now, they have been routinely collected by municipal workers and volunteers and unceremoniously discarded in a municipal dumpsite near the town of Molyvos. Each life vest was worn by one of the more than 450,000 refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants in 2015 alone who made the sea crossing from Turkey to this Greek island. Each tells a different story, but almost inevitably, it is a story of fear.

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The people of Lesbos tell another remarkable story that demands to be understood by all who wish to help the Syrian displaced and desperate. This reflection of a Greek fisherman is a stark and simple message.

     “I remember I was a young boy, and I saw Iraqi men arriving on small rubber boats with paddles,” Pinteris says while pulling his fish-laden nets out of the water. “We wondered, ‘Why are these men here?'”

     Like most of the people in this small and conservative village, Pinteris initially viewed the arrivals as an invasion. But now, in light of recent events, even some of the most hardened Greeks on the islands have changed their minds.

     “After having experienced what we have this year, with women and children in the water screaming for help, many people’s world views have changed,” Pinteris says.

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From the fishermen who lift them from the rafts, to the YiaYias who feed and care for their disoriented guests, the people of Lesbos are the finest example of human compassion; they are the essence of humanitarian spirit. So much good has come from their acts of kindness… and today Lesbos islanders persevere under the strain of economic and political realities.

Learning to Love the Sea – After surviving traumatic journeys, children of refugee crisis are getting swimming lessons

Life on Lesbos: residents tell us what its really like.

UN News: “If tiny Lesbos can do so much, surely others can do more.”

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There is little wonder that the Lesbos people have been nominated to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for their acts of kindness. Take a moment and watch these moving YouTube videos.

The Greek Grandmother and Fisherman

Greek submission for Nobel Peace Prize

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On a small Greek island where they have so very little to give, the Lesbos islanders give their all. Their acts have truly provided renewed faith in humanity.

Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.