Australia’s capital city gets into the Hellenic spirit in honour of Greece’s National Day

By Evelyn Karatzas.

On Sunday, March 26, the Greek community of Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) came together to celebrate Greek Independence Day and showcase their love for their faith, language, food, dancing and culture.

The commemoration events commenced with a church service at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Kingston officiated by Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis. This was followed by poem recitals from children of the Greek School of Canberra.

Church service. All photos: The Greek Herald / Evelyn Karatzas.
Youth at the church service.

Parents, teachers, students and community members were then invited to join officials at the Australian Hellenic War Memorial where the annual wreath laying event took place and speeches were delivered by the Ambassador of Greece in Australia, George Papacostas; Bishop Bartholomew; and the Secretary of the Hellenic Sub-Branch RSL Melbourne, Major Terry Kanellos (RETD) OAM.

In his speech, Mr Papacostas said Greek Independence Day is a reminder of the Greeks and Philhellenes who’s sacrifices paved the way for a free Greek state.

Wreath laying ceremony.

“On the 25th of March 1821, it marked a new era in the nations fight for gaining democracy, freedom and independence,” Mr Papacostas said.

“Thanks to their sacrifices, Greece is a modern, prosperous and democratic nation today.”

A luncheon followed at Fillos Taverna at the Hellenic Club of Canberra, where members of Parliament, dignitaries, clergy and Greek and Cypriot community presidents attended.

The Canberra Hellenic Dancers Atalanti group entertained guests with their dancing and traditional costumes.

Hellenic Club of Canberra luncheon.
Canberra Hellenic Dancers.

President of the Greek Community of Canberra (GCC), John Loukadellis, spoke at the luncheon and said he was proud to be a part of the evolving and enriched Greek community of Canberra.

“The three things that the Greek Orthodox Community and Church here power ourselves on, which we use as a map for the future of Hellenism in Canberra, is our three pillar Program – our faith, our culture and traditions, and their language,” Mr Loukadellis said.

“This is what Greece has based itself on for centuries.

“We are very lucky and blessed to have venues like the Hellenic Club of Canberra, which is our base, the Hellenic War Memorial and the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church which allow us to celebrate, commemorate and remember cultural events like this.”

Several members of Canberra’s Hellenic Youth Club also attended events throughout the day to show their support, love and pride for their culture and community.

Hellenic Youth Club members.

Hellenic Youth Club general directors, Iliada Mantinaos and Evdoxia Mantinaos, said they felt honoured to represent their community’s youth and be a part of such a significant day.

“Attending events such as the 25th of March are a way to help keep the Greek culture and traditions alive,” Iliada said.

Evdoxia added: “We are the ones that are going to continue the traditions and uphold our legacy, and we’re all just very proud to be a part of such a strong community.”

Sunday’s events came as Canberra lit up in blue and white on Saturday, March 25 to mark Greece’s National Day. Buildings such as the Hellenic Club of Canberra, the Carillon Bell Tower, the National Museum of Australia and Old Parliament House were all lit in the colours of the Greek flag.

40 Greek flags were also flying proudly around Kings Avenue, Petrie Plaza, Garema Place, Vernon Circle, and everywhere in Gold Creek.

Old Parliament House.

*All photos: The Greek Herald / Evelyn Karatzas.


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