Greeks in Hempstead Unite in Faith and National Pride

St. Paul’s Cathedral of Hempstead will commemorate Greek Independence Day on Sunday, March 21. This day is a dual holiday in the Greek Orthodox religious calendar, celebrating the Annunciation and also the day in which Greeks celebrate their freedom from the Ottoman Empire in 1821.

St. Paul parishioner Triphon Kollitides explained the history of this holiday in an interview with Nassau News Live.

“The time was right [for the Greeks to fight for independence] after multiple bloodied attempts for freedom, such as the American Independence from the British, and the revolutionary fervor that flooded Europe with the French Revolution,” Kollitides said. “It seemed an impossible task for a small nation fighting and winning over one of the most powerful empires of its time.”

Greek Independence Day is observed in Greek Orthodox churches all over the country, yet it is not a religious holiday.

“For Greek Orthodox Christians, the religion and culture have always been a strong unity,” said Fr. Andreas Vithoulkas. “Commemorating Greek Independence Day in church is a way to preserve our history and culture for generations to come.”

St. Paul’s Cathedral will recognize the holiday on March 21with a performance from the community’s Greek School. The students of the Greek School will give presentations and perform traditional group dances, Kollitides said, “the same ones that the Revolutionaries danced before having the next fight.”

On March 25, the actual date of Greek Independence Day, The Cathedral of St. Paul will hold the Divine Liturgy of the Annunciation of the Theotokos.

On April 18, all Greek communities in the area will celebrate Greek Independence Day with a parade on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.