Ζητω η Ελλαδα!

In a few days it will be March 25th.  This day marks a very important day in the life of a Greek as it is Greek Independence Day.  If you live in a city with a large Greek population there may be a parade to commemorate the day.  Boston, Toronto, New York, all have parades where thousands line the streets and shout ZHTO H ELLADA!  ZHTO H 25H MARTIOU!  I remember growing up as a little girl dressed up in my Basilisa Amala outfit and being presented with a poem that I needed to memorize either on my own or with a partner to present at our Greek School program.  I remember the nervousness about the room.  From the kids–would we remember our lines when the time came.  From the parents–would their child represent them well in front of the entire community.  Somehow that two passed and I guess sparked my love for public speaking.  When you’re getting up in front of a couple of hundred people at the age of six and seven, really what is a couple of thousand people when you’re in your twenties and thirties.  I remember being a member of the Hellenic Society and marching in the parade when it started in Boston.  I still have a favourite photo of mine with me, ready to march, and my dad, a former evzone, ready to march.

I know many of you will have your Greek Flag as a temporary cover photo on Facebook this week.  You’ll make sure you have your blue and white clothes on this Saturday as you represent.  But what can you be doing year round to commemorate this day?  Can you be teaching your children about it, more than just once a year?  Can you represent by giving back to those in our community who need help, either by giving of your time or services?  I know that there are many programs in Toronto for elder Greeks and even a Greek nursing home.  Is there an opportunity to volunteer and  make a plan to visit once a month and read to the seniors? I know in Boston (Canton actually) there is a Greek nursing home as well or what about Philoxenia House?  Can you volunteer to go cook a meal for the individuals who are staying there?  My point being that being Greek or rather celebrating your Greek heritage shouldn’t be a March 25th event only.  It should be an everyday event.  How can you use your talents and relay to the world how amazing we truly are?

At a time when the world is seeing Greece as problem country with all of the debt it has, and the refugees that have fled to this country, let us show them how amazing and wonderful the people are.  Let us show them that we haven’t lost our sense of philotimo and philoxenia.  Let us show them that the pride that we carry in our hearts doesn’t turn off the other 364 days a year.

The Greek National Anthem
Σὲ γνωρίζω ἀπὸ τὴν κόψι
Τοῦ σπαθιοῦ τὴν τρομερή,
Σὲ γνωρίζω ἀπὸ τὴν ὄψι,
Ποῦ μὲ βιά μετράει τὴν γῆ.
Ἀπ’ τὰ κόκκαλα βγαλμένη
Τῶν Ἑλλήνων τὰ ἱερά,
Καὶ σὰν πρῶτα ἀνδρειωμένη,
Χαῖρε, ὢ χαῖρε, Ἐλευθεριά!

For my non Greek speaking friends you can find a translation of the Anthem here.

Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

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We’ve had a busy week. Miss K started two of her fall classes. I know if you’re Greek you’re sitting there saying she’s sending her kid to school now? She should have started a couple of months ago!  We are adding onto our nursery rhyme collection…if you remember I’m better with the Greek ones than the English ones. One class is primarily rhymes and reading so we should be able to add to our repertoire! We’re also excited to have our paternal γιαγιά and παππού back from Greece. Of course they spoiled the little one. We’re beyond loving our new Ζουζουνακιά collection (see picture below).

It is important to me and hubby that our little Miss is able to grow up embracing her Greekness. Growing up in the διασπορά it is hard to be able to continue those customs and traditions that were instilled in us by our parents.  When I was 21 I spent 3 months in Greece after finishing my degree.  I primarily spent the time in Athens but I did spend a week or so in my dad’s village.  My dad’s village finally got asphalt roads that year if it gives you a visual of what it was like.  My aunt and uncle from the US (God rest their souls) were in Greece that summer.  I was walking with one cousin from the aunt and uncle’s house to our house.  We could see sitting about 4 houses down two little old ladies, widows, as they were dressed all in black.  As we were walking closer I heard one say to the other, “έρχεται η αμερικανα”…”oh here comes the American.”  I of course with a big smile on my face respond in my perfectly accented Greek, looking behind me, “που, που είναι η αμερικανικα;…Where oh where is the American?”  The women were in shock, literally jaws dropped.  They continued to say, “παιδί μου μιλάτε ελληνικά;…My child you speak Greek?”  I replied, “φυσικά μιλάω ελληνικά, εχω αποφοιτήσει από το Ελληνικό Σχολείο, kai σπούδασα ελληνική μελέτες στο πανεπιστήμιο….Of course I speak Greek I finished 8 years of Greek School and minored in Modern Greek Studies in university.”  Well needless to say the ladies were shocked.  They could not believe that an “Amerikanaki” like me could speak Greek with no detection of a foreign accent or anything.

One thing my father said many years ago and has stuck with me is he didn’t learn how to speak English so his kids could learn to speak Greek.  Now at the time growing up I didn’t understand what that meant.  Seriously you moved to a foreign land why wouldn’t you give it your all to learn everything you could.  Now don’t get me wrong he had a successful business and is able to hold his own but now that I have a daughter I understand a bit better what that meant.  If we don’t keep the language alive in our homes then it will be lost forever.  I try to speak Greek to Miss K all the time.  Why you might ask? Because I know that the older she gets the more prevalent the English language will be in her life.  Now is my chance to instill in her some of those traditions that were passed on to me, so when she goes to Greece 20 years from now on her own for 3 months the next generation of little old Greek ladies can be as shocked at how my Greek-Canadian/American daughter can speak better Greek than the locals!

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Roula

A little ditty about Jack and Diane...no really in all seriousness I'm a daughter, sister, wife and mother. I'm a Greek-American, who has transplanted in Canada. As a first time mom I'm sharing some things as I go along.

More Posts