Thursday, March 25, marks Greek Independence Day, the 189th anniversary of the Greek Declaration of Independence. Although the annual Chicago Greektown parade commemorating the date has been moved to April 25, some celebrations take place this week.
In 1821, Greek patriots rose up against 400 years of occupation by the Ottoman Turks, starting an eight-year revolutionary war, which extended until Sultan Mahmud II, facing Soviet troops, accepted the Treaty of Andrianople, giving the Greece its independence.
During the Turkish occupancy, which began in 1453 with the fall of Constantinople (now Istanbul), thousands of Greeks were killed and tortured for attending church or teaching Grecian culture, history and language. The Greek Orthodox Church instituted Crypha Scholia (Hidden Schools) to keep Greek culture alive.
Chicago’s Greek Independence parade has been postponed this year from its usual date, the Sunday nearest March 25, to avoid conflict with Orthodox Palm Sunday. Organizers also hope that warmer weather on April 25 will fetch a bigger-than-usual crowd, especially to show support as the community recovers from the devastating January fire that closed Costa’s, among other businesses.
Among the Greektown eateries celebrating, Athena will offer 25 percent off all dine-in meals on Thursday, amid a festive atmosphere.