Sunday, March 29, 2015

Greek Independence Day Parade

Greek Independence Day, national holiday celebrated annually in Greece on March 25, commemorating the start of the War of Greek Independence in 1821.  Greece had been part of the Ottoman Empire since 1453. On March 25, 1821 the bishop Germanos of Patras raised the Greek flag at the Monastery of Agia Lavra in Peloponnese.  The people of Greece   fought the War of Independence for 9 years (1821-1829) until a small part of modern Greece was finally liberated and it was declared an independent. March 25 is both a national  and religious holiday (Annunciation).  

 
On March 25  2015  thousands of Greeks have lined a main central Athens avenue despite rain to watch the country’s annual Independence Day military parade.   New York Greek independence Day parade took place yesterday, March 29.    New Yorkers had more luck  with the weather - it was cold yesterday but sunny.  Parade in New York represents the largest gathering of Greek-Americans outside of Greece itself and celebrates Orthodoxy, Hellenism, and Freedom.


About 1.3 million American people have Greek ancestry. The United States is home to the largest overseas Greek community, ahead of Australia, Cyprus, Albania, and the United Kingdom.  Greek immigration to New York City began mainly in the 1890s. The push factors for immigration were the Balkan Wars and World War I. Today residents of Greek descent make up 1.0% of New York City's population. The largest concentration of Greeks can still be found in Astoria.  With the economic crisis deepening, about 5,000 Greeks fled their homeland for Astoria in 2013, compared to about 2,000 a year in the previous half decade.


  The New York Greek Independence Day Parade has been held annually along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue since 1951. The parade itself first took place in NYC in 1938.  Since 1938, the parade attracts over 100,000 spectators annually with approximately 25,000 participants.  The event celebrates Hellenic culture and marks the anniversary of Greek independence. 
 New York Greek Independence Day Parade is organized by the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York. Founded in 1937, the group claims to be the largest and oldest cultural federation in the U.S.