25th of March, 2020 a day of celebration, however with the enemy coronavirus at our door steps, the celebrations were not like those we have been accustomed to for so many years.
Our town during these celebrations is usually filled with people. All dressed for celebration, to honour those who fought in the battle of 1821 against the Ottoman Empire. To honour our heroes nation wide and to honour our religious culture, the Annunciation by Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she should become the mother of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
Children with smiles on their faces proudly held Greek flags up high, watching them blow in the wind as their mothers pulled them along. Chatter across the streets, the old man with his family, together slowly making their way down to the square. School children perfectly dressed for the parade gathered at San Marcos square, laughing and joking whilst their teachers tried to get them in line. As the clock struck twelve the signal was given for the parade to begin. Slowly the schools would march up the street, flag bearers first with their chins up high, each one so proud of what they held tightly in their hands. People clapping and cheering “Bravo!!” mothers with a tear drop or two, as they watched their young ones march by. Then the encore of the crowed once the police and fire services drove by, 25th March was a celebration enjoyed by all.
Today, not a footstep could be heard, no chatter, no laughter, the streets were empty. The town seemed like a ghost town apart for a few cars driving through. No one stopped they just simply drove through. The 25th of March, 2020, the celebrations were hidden away from all.
Greeks across the nation were at home including Zakynthians. At 11.am a familiar sound echoed hope. The sound of our church bells ringing in true Zakynthian festivity. Across the island each bell could be heard as the church services came to an end. People came out onto their balconies and listened. Calls of “Xronia Polla Ellada” could be heard across the deserted lane ways.
At 12 noon the Greek National Anthem played on radio stations and in unity people flew their flags high and began to sing. A sound in the distance came roaring across the sky. It was our military doing their flyby in their F16’s. Zakynthos came alive and the spirit of 25th March burnt in the hearts of everyone today.
We may not have been down the square sharing our kisses to one and other, but in a way we were united in celebration. We gave respect to our ancestors and to those who are fighting now for the very cause our ancestors fought for, Freedom! Freedom to be who we are, freedom to live, freedom to be Greeks. Happy Independence day Greece!