March 25 is one of the most important dates of Hellenism throughout the world since it marks both the anniversary of the Greek War of Independence against the Ottomans and the Feast of the Annunciation, a significant celebration in Christianity.
The Feast of the Annunciation marks the visit of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, during which he told her that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
More importantly, since it occurs nine months before the birth of Jesus on Christmas Day, the Annunciation marks the actual incarnation of Jesus Christ – the moment that Jesus was conceived and that the Son of God became the son of the Virgin Mary.
The feast day celebrates two things:
- God’s action in entering the human world as Jesus in order to save humanity; and
- Humanity’s acceptance of God’s will in Mary’s freely-given acceptance of the role of being the Mother of God.
March 25 is the name day of all those called Evangelia, Evangelos, Angela, Angelo, Maria, Marie, Maree, Mariah, Mario, Theotokis, Panayiota, Yiota, Panayiotis and other derivatives of “Evangelismos” (Annunciation).
Besides Evangelia and Evangelos the rest of the names are also celebrated on August 15 or November 8.
The Greek War of Independence began on the important holy day
The Revolutionary fighters in the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire chose the holy day of the Annunciation as the symbolic start of their struggle.
On March 13, 1821 Metropolitan Germanos of Old Patras (Palaion Patron Germanos), accompanied by Greek fighters, had declared war against the Ottomans at the Agia Lavra Monastery, blessing the efforts of the freedom fighters.
March 13 is the day given by historians for this event. Yet Greeks chose March 25th as the historical day of the beginning of the war in earnest, so that the outbreak of the Revolution would coincide with the feast of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary.
The Virgin Mary is the second-most sacred figure in the Greek Orthodox Church after Jesus Himself, and the choice of the day inextricably connects Orthodoxy with the Greek War of Independence.
When Palaion Patron Germanos raised the flag with the cross and blessed it, he signified that this was not only a war for freedom, but also a war of faith.
The story Annunciation is told in Luke’s Gospel, 1:26-38.
“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.
“Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered.
‘May it be to me as you have said.’ Then the angel left her.”