Kefalonian Roots       Genealogical Services for Kefalonia, Greece
An Introduction To Kefalonia
The Meaning Of The Words Kefalonia, Cephalonia and Kefallinia
A Brief History Of Kefalonia
The Derivations Of The Names Of Significant Places And Towns
Geographical Map
Fading Traditions Of Kefalonian Life  
Dates And Significance Of National And Kefalonian Holidays and Commemorative Days
A Brief History Of The Greek Orthodox Church
Name Days and Dates of Celebration

 

The Dates and Significance of the National and Kefalonian Holidays and Commemorative Days

   

Introduction:

            Holidays, historic and religious, allow us to enter the deepest corner of the soul of the citizens of a nation. These commemorative days show us what is most significant in the minds of the inhabitants, as they progress through their history. They identify what dramatic historical episodes the people have experienced; they express how the people perceive those who fought, suffered, survived and perished during those episodes; and they declare what historic people and events give the population strength to progress forward, day after day, into the future.

            It is important to understand that, due to the fact that there is no separation of Church and the State in Greece, several major religious feast days are also celebrated as national holidays.

            The following is a list of Greek historic and religious national holidays, and Kefalonian, historic and religious, provincial holidays.

 

 

The Greek National Flag

 

Date

 

 

 

 

Adopted by The   1st National Assembly in Epidauros in January 1822; and by  The Provincial Administration  Of Greece  in Korinth on March 15th, 1822.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Maps courtesy of www.theodora.com/maps used with permission"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Significance

 

   This is the official flag of the Greek Democracy. It has 9 horizontal stripes 5 blue and 4 white.  In the upper left hand corner is a square the size of 5 stripes.  Inside the square are four blue squares and a white cross.

   The cross symbolizes the Christian belief of its people;, the color blue, the color of the sky; and the color white, the snow-covered mountains, the white caps of the sea and the white skirt of the soldiers who fought the Turks for independence in the 1820’s.  There is another explanation which people consider more serious. It states that the white represents the innocence of the Greek people, and that the blue signifies their seriousness and  strength. 

      The flag is  commonly referred to as the“γαλανόλευκη”- “galanolefkey”, meaning the blue and white.

 

 

 

 

 

Historic and Religious National Holidays

 

 

 

 

Date

 

The Commemoration of:

January 1

New Year’s Day and St. Basel’s Day

 

 

   

St.jpg (13439 bytes)

 

New Year’s Day is of course a National Holiday.  On the same day the Greek Church celebrates St. Basel’s Day.  According to Greek tradition, it is St. Basel, and not Saint Nicolas, who brings the children gifts during Christmastide.            Traditionally in Greece, Santa Claus – St. Nicholas – is celebrated on the 6th of December, as the patron saint of sailors.  

January 6

Epiphany

 

 

   Epiphany.jpg (16050 bytes)

    

A national religious holiday celebrating the baptism of Jesus; the revelation of Jesus, as the son of God; and the Holy Spirit as the third entity of the Holy Trinity.  

 

The Three Priests

 

January 30

   Three Priests.jpg (19403 bytes)

   

This is a national school holiday for all levels of education.  These three priests were very involved with religion, education,  philanthropic acts; and were fearless of the landlords.  

 

Καθαρά Δευτέρα– Clean Monday

 
 

48 days before Easter

 

1st Day of Greek Orthodox Lent  

 

 

 

   

 

Foods for the fast  on a buffet at the school in the village of Soullaroi, Paliki

 

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     Is a national religious holiday celebrated the day after the Carnival, which is always on a Sunday.  "Clean Monday" is the first day of fasting in the season of Lent.  Its position in the week would be synonymous with Shrove Monday in the Catholic or Protestant denominations; however, its religious significance is that of Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.

     On this day the villagers organize a Lenten feast of           " foods for the fast" - unleavened bread, fresh green salads, fish egg salad, olives, cooked giant beans, fruit and wine.   They bring the food to a central place - the village square or the school, and arrange it as a buffet; then, all of the villagers eat together.  After the meal, they socialize and dance until the early evening.

 

 

 

 

 

The Greek Revolution Against the Turks

 

 

 

 

 

 

  March 25,

 

 

Beginning of the Revolution 1821   

 

 

            The Greek Revolution against the Turks began on March 25, 1821 at Saint Laura with the blessing of the revolutionists, their arms, and the Banner of Battle - the flag -  by Bishop Palaion Patron Germanos.                         

 

 

 

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The Virgin Mary receiving Gabriel’s message.

 

  

 

 

  An historic holiday, commemorating the beginning of the revolution against the Turks - Ottoman Empire- on March 25, 1821.  The Greeks won their freedom from the Ottoman Empire, the Turks, on May 7, 1832 with the signing of the Treaty of London.

 

 

  This is also a national religious holiday commemorating the Virgin Mary’s reception of Gabriel’s message    stating that she was with-child;  a child who would be the Savior of the world.

 

 

Easter Monday

 

The day after Easter

 

     Easter Monday is a   national holiday. As a religious holiday it is called the Day of Love.

 

 

Assumption  Day

 

August  15

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A national religious holiday commemorating the falling asleep of the Virgin Mary.  

 

 

ΟΧΙ !  DAY

 

 

October  28, 1940

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

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The soldier, of the Kilted Greek Regiment.  on the right, is a young man from Lixouri, Kefalonia.

These soldiers are named  Τσολιάς -  Cholias

 

  On this date the Greek Prime Minster, John Metaxas, received a letter from Bonito Mussolini, which basically stated….

The deadline has arrived; I want Greek soil, so that the Italian army can pass through Greece.  But, Prime Minister Metaxas thunderously stated, ΟΧΙ,

(  NO! )

His response, of course, led Greece into war with Italy and then with Germany.  This day has since been known as ΟΧΙ Day.  

 

 

 

 

 

National Commemorative Day

 

 

Polytechneio

 

 

November

17, 1973

 

 

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   This is not a full National Holiday; only the universities and schools are closed.  It is in commemoration of the students who were killed at the time the tanks of the Dictatorship of George Papadopoulos crashed into the Polytechnic Institute of Athens, where the students fighting against the dictatorship had sought asylum.

 

 

 

Christmas Day

 

December  25

   

 

  A national religious holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus.  

 

 

 

The Day After Christmas

 

December  26

 

   This is a national holiday.

 

 

 

 

 

Public Holidays of Kefalonia

 

 

 

    These are coins from the four ancient City-states of Kefalonia.  Mythology tells us that King Cephalos gave land to each of his sons, Pale, Sami, Proni and Krane. Today, these names still apply to areas of Kefalonia.  

See History of Kefalonia

 

 

Saint Haralabos Day

 

 

  February 10

   

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     Saint Haralobos is the patron saint of Lixouri.  He helped in the time of the plague by giving assistance to the poor and ill.  It is said that he played a large roll in stamping out the plague.  This date is a public holiday for the municipality of Paliki.

 

 

 

 

 

Independence Day

of the Ionian Islands

 

 

May 21

 

 

 

The flag of the United States of the Ionian Sea, under the protection of England.

 

   

      The Rizospastes, the group which lead the people of the 7 islands into revolt to free themselves from British rule and unite with unoccupied, free Greece.

 

 

 

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   This picture symbolizes the union of the Seven Islands with the Free State of Greece.

  The seven women represent the Seven Islands.

 

  This date commemorates the day on which the Ionian Islands were united with the Free State of Greece. On this day, Saturday May 21, 1864, at 12:00 noon, the British sailed away from the Ionian Islands; thus making the dream of the Kefalonians and the inhabitants of the Ionian Islands, a reality.

   To secure this freedom, three Kefalonians:  

Elias Zerbos, Joseph Manferatos and Gerosimos Livadas, organized and led the peoples revolt. See a Brief History of Kefalonian.

After much blood shed and persecution, the people of the Seven Islands won their freedom from Britain.

     The Ionian Islands are: Kerkyra (Corfu), Lefkada, Paxos, Kefalonia, Ithaca, Zakinthos and Kythera.  They are referred to as the Seven Islands.

 This is a Public Holiday for all of the Seven Islands.

 In 1863, the people created a painting to signify the uniting of the Ionian Islands with Free Greece.

See History of Kefalonia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint Gerasimos Day

 

 

 October 20

 

 

      

 New Jerusalem Nunnery at Community Omalon

Below:

     Saint Gerasimos                     'Αγιος Γεράσιμος

 

 

 

 

 

   Saint Gerosimos is the Patron Saint of Kefalonia.  1507-1579; sainted in 1622.

   He was born with the secular name of Notaras in Trikala, Corinth.  Saint Gerasimos is known for his travels in Greece, Constantinople and Jerusalem.  He arrived in Kefalonia in 1554 and took the position of permanent priest in Valsamata in 1560.  The church of Holy Jerusalem was established during the crusades, cir. 1200 in the area of Omala.  There he made a nunnery, which he named New Jerusalem.      

  In this nunnery, he lived as a hermit - monk counseling visitors and creating miracles until his death in 1579.

  His remains were moved to a memorial on October 20, 1581.  It appears that due to this event, his name is celebrated on this date every year.  October 20th is a public holiday for the municipality of Argostoli. However, people all over the island celebrate it as a very special Saint Day.

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

            Pictures – In order of appearance

 

                  Greek National Flag, www.theodora.com/maps/greece_map.html

 

                  St. Basel, Αγιολόγιον-Ημερολόγιον 2006, Νεα Χαλκηδόνα, ΚΥΠΡΗ, 2006.

 

                  Epiphany, Αγιολόγιον-Ημερολόγιον 2006, Νεα Χαλκηδόνα, ΚΥΠΡΗ, 2006

 

                  Kathara Defthera, pictures by Elaine Boldrick Vallianoy, Lixouri, Kefalonia, 1996

 

                  Blessing of the Soldiers and the Banner of Battle, March 25, 1821,

                              ΜΑΘΗΤΙΚΗ ΥΔΡΙΑ, Vol. 4, Athens, Εκδοσεις Γ. Αξιωτελλης & ΣΙΑ ΕΠΕ, 1989.  

        

                  St. Mary receiving a message from the archangel Gabriel, Αγιολόγιον-Ημερολόγιον 2006, Νεα  Χαλκηδόνα, ΚΥΠΡΥ, 2006

 

                  Assumption Day, Αγιολόγιον-Ημερολόγιον 2006, Νεα Χαλκηδόνα, ΚΥΠΡΥ, 2006 

 

                  Greek soldiers in traditional dress. On right Tolly Frentzsos of Lixouri, Kefalonia,  at the Congress building, Constitution Square, Athens, Greece

                  Symbol of the Polytechneio, Kathimerini, front page, November 17, 2005.

 

                  Christmas Day,  Αγιολόγιον-Ημερολόγιον 2006, Νεα Χαλκηδόνα, ΚΥΠΡΥ, 2006.

   

                   Coins of the Tetrapolis,  History of Kefalonia, George Moshopoulos, Athens,          Kefalos, 1985-88 

                   Saint Haralabos, Αγιολόγιον-Ημερολόγιον 2006, Νεα Χαλκηδόνα, ΚΥΠΡΗ, 2006

 

                   Congressmen of the Rizospastis Party,     Αντίπα, Γ., ΕΠΤΑΝΗΣΟΣ ΚΑΙ ΕΠΤΑΝΗΣΙΑΚΕΣ                      ΠΡΟΣΩΠΙΚΟΤΗΤΕΣ, Έκδοση Κεφαλλινιακής Αδελφότητας Αθηνών

           

                   Symbol of the Independence of the Ionian Islands,  Η Ιστορία Του Ελλινηκού Έθνος Από 1862-1881, Τόμος Γς, Διεύθυνση Εκδόσεως Γεώργος Χριστόπουλος, Αθήνα, Εδκοτική Αθηνών Α.Ε.  1977

                                      

                   Omala, The Nunnery of New Jerusalem, Poulaki-Katevati, Dionysia, ΚΕΦΑΛΟΝΙΑCEPHALONIA BEFORE THE EARTHQUAKE OF 1953,  Athens, Eikon Publishing,  2003.

       

                    Saint Gerasimos and Nunnery, New Jerusalem, Gkeli, Kostantinos G, Ο ΑΓΙΟΣ ΓΕΡΑΣΙΜΟΣ  ΚΕΦΑΛΛΙΝΙΑΣ , 4th  Edition, Athens, The Holy Nunnery of St. Gerasimos, “New  Jerusalem”,  1991.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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