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The Greek Tradition of Eating Hake on March 25th

Hake and skordalia
Hake and skordalia is the traditional dish for March 25.

Greeks eat hake and skordalia on March 25th, the most important national holiday for Greece.

The day coincides with the feast of the Annunciation (Evangelismos) of the Virgin Mary, a day on which, traditionally, Greeks eat fried hake accompanied with a garlic puree called skordalia.

Every year on the Feast of the Annunciation, Greeks dine on hake with garlic dip for their family repast.

The reason behind this tradition is that apart from the national holiday, March 25th is dedicated to Virgin Mary, making for a joyful celebration in the midst of the 40-day Lenten fast, when the Greek Orthodox faithful are allowed to eat fish and oil and consume wine.

Hake is cheap and easy to preserve

The explanation behind the specific choice of fish is very simple and comes from decades ago, when mainland Greeks were not able to have fresh fish on this day and had to buy cheaper, salted fish.

Despite the fact that hake is not a Mediterranean fish, as it is mostly found in the waters of the Northeastern Atlantic, the fish can be cured; therefore it is cheap and easy to preserve.

Hake made its appearance on Greek tables at some point in the fifteenth century, and ever since has constituted the dish of the Greek Orthodox on March 25th, later becoming a national dish as well.

The Annunciation (or Evangelismos in Greek) of the Theotokos is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church, and is always celebrated on March 25. This is one of only two days during Lent (the other being Palm Sunday) when fish is permitted.

According to the Gospel of Luke 1:26-38, on March 25th, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce to her that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, marking His Incarnation. Gabriel told Mary to name her son “Yeshua.”

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