March 25, 2020: Greeks Celebrate Independence Day Despite Lockdown

While the annual parades were canceled, people around Greece didn't let that stop them from celebrating their Independence Day on March 25.

March 25 is a double holiday in Greece. Normally marked with large parades in the street, it is Greek Independence Day, celebrating the day in 1821 when the revolution against the Ottomans officially began in the Peloponnese. The military shows off their fancy jets and helicopters, people dress up in traditional costumes, flags are waved and the national anthem is sung all over the country.

This also happens to be an important day in the Christian calendar, namely the Annunciation: the day the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would give birth to the son of God.

This year, while Greece is under lockdown and the annual parades were canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, that didn’t Greeks from celebrating their independence.

To mark the day throughout the country, (and just a year shy from the bicentennial celebrations) balconies in cities and villages were decorated with Greek flags. On TV, people watched as the country’s newly inaugurated President (and the first woman to hold the position), Katerina Sakellaropoulou, placed a wreath at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier on central Syntagma Square.

Kids got crafty creating their own decorations, and some even reenacted the parades, playing instruments and dressing up as evzones (soldiers of the ceremonial presidential guard). In some city neighborhoods, even the least patriotically-minded were tempted to join in as music played and citizens came together to sing the national anthem from their balconies.

Like most holidays, Independence Day also comes with its own traditional feast. Through a quirk of history, on this day, Greeks indulge in batter fried cod and a pungent garlic dip known as skordalia (you’ll find one theory here as to why that is). And while most restaurants have closed due to the virus (only those offering delivery or takeout are allowed to remain open), cooking at home is always an option; with all the time in the world to do so, many made an effort to make their Independence Day meal extra special this year.

Here are some of the photos people shared on Instagram:

Balconies were decked out with flags

We’ve already written about how important balconies have become in the days of COVID-19; it is to be expected that they also became stages for expressions of national pride.

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Other decorations were needed as well, and some got really crafty, sharing tutorials of how to make Evzones with skirts made out of toilet paper.


Who needs to go outside when it’s just as much a holiday at home? While schools have now been closed for a couple of weeks already, kids seem among the least bothered by having to stay inside. Independence Day came with new projects and games to play at home.

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They sang the National Anthem and hosted their own mini parades…

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And (of course) Greeks’ furry friends could not be left out of the Instagram fun. While we didn’t see any disciplined enough to re-enact a parade, many seemed more than happy to wave the flag (although we suspect off-camera treats may have helped bolster their patriotic spirit).

Some found ways to bring the spirit of the day to the streets.

Citizens are allowed to exercise outside (alone or in pairs) as long as they notify authorities by sending a text message beforehand. This particular citizen of Thessaloniki chose a special outfit for his Independence Day run.

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And of course there was Lots of food…

…with lots of love.

If anything good will come out of the closing of restaurants around the country (aside from limiting the spread of the coronavirus, of course), it might be a whole new generation of chefs, as home cooks have all the time in the world to scour the internet for recipes, and develop their culinary skills.

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