200 years ago, 1821.
My ancestors heard the calling of Revolution: It was time to reclaim their freedom, after 400 years of slavery.
The fight was brutal and long. Men, women and children would sacrifice their life to stand up for their culture, their religion, and the roots of their future identity as a Nation, as they were passed on to them in their homes and in Secret Schools held in the dark, hiding from the conquerors.
But now the time had come.
From the sea to the mountains, this little piece of land that would become Greece, turned into a battlefield.The history of my country over the aeons remains as a story of bravery, the fight of the small against the mighty.
When visiting Greece, there's one little known town you must put on your bucket list if you love history. It's called Nafplio and it's a 2-hour trip from Athens you'll be glad you took.
Apart from its physical beauty, Nafplio has a history that spans from 1600bc. Crowned by a beautiful fortress, the town is also sporting a second castle in the middle of a picturesque port-a unique site on the Greek landscape. Have your camera ready to roll, you're guaranteed to have a blast taking photos here!
Every other corner holds a piece of history, from its function as the base of the newly founded Greek Government and the printing of the first ever Greek Government newspaper, to the dark historical moments like the assasination of the first Governor of Greece, Ioannis Kapodistrias, outside of the church of St. Spyridonas and the imprisonment of Theodoros Kolokotronis, one of the leading figures of the Greek Revolution, in a cell you will never forget.
Choose to pay a visit during the Greek Orthodox Easter (but make sure you book way far in advance). The local tradition includes highlights like the marching of all people, escorting the biers of Christ (Epitaphs in Greek) of the Old City churches towards the Central Square on Good Friday, followed by a magnificent celebration of Christ's Resurrection on the night of Good Saturday. Flowers are blooming all over the city, the weather in Spring is great, this is an experience you don't want to miss.
And some interesting facts about the Greek flag.
In the first year of the Greek Revolution many different War Flags were used.
The version of the Greek flag with 9 stripes of blue and white and the white cross on blue background on the upper corner, was established as the Nautical War Flag of Greece while a more simple form, a white cross on blue background, was established as the Nautical Trade Flag and the Land Flag of Greece in 1822.
Then, on 1828, Ioannis Kapodistrias established the previously named Nautical War Flag of Greece as the one version to be used on land and in the sea-the Greek Flag.
But why the choice of colors and the 9 stripes?
I was taught in school (other possible explanations can be found online, but the truth is I love the romantic and inspirational nature of what I was taught and it holds a special meaning to me so this is what I will mention here and this is what I teach to my children as well)
- Blue is for the sky and white for the foam on the sea waves-also blue is for the help coming from the sky, from God, to aid the Revolution and its pure, good cause (symbolized by white) and correct the injustice that was done to our people.
- The cross is for our Greek Orthodox religion, that we are all baptized in.
- The 9 stripes stand for the 9 syllables of the Greek phrase "Eleftheria I Thanatos" (Freedom Or Death).
So there you are- a short snippet of my country's history as it lives in my heart and as I try to pass it on to the hearts of my children. As we try to adapt in our new land, as we strive to learn, accept and respect all the cultures, beliefs and rich history of the people we meet, we shouldn't lose our own cultural indentity, our flavor.
The beauty of this world lies in the beauty of coming together and living together in harmony and peace, each bringing our own ingredients to the mix, leaving aside our differences and focusing on our shared moments of joy rather than blending in and becoming a mass.
After all, the tree that grows taller and withstands the winds is the tree that has grown the deepest roots.
Now, Goddess, your turn!
Have you ever been in Greece?
Did you visit Nafplio-or get inspired to put it on your dream list?
Which fact about the Greek flag was the most interesting to learn about?
Let me know in the comments below!
Grow your cultural roots, reach up to the sky and Stay Unforgettable!