Annunciation of the Virgin Mary and the Revolution of 1821

March 25th is a religious and a National Day. This day is a public holiday in Greece. Its double celebration makes it one of the most important dates of the year.

Religious feast, because the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary is celebrated and a national anniversary because, as of today, the Greek revolution started against the Ottoman Empire.

According to religion, the day of the Annunciation was the day when the Virgin Mary learned that she could carry on the Christ, the Son of God. Etymologically the word annunciation(evangelisms) means messenger of good news. According to Evangelist Luke, Archangel Gabriel, who not only announced it but also asked for her consent, said the joyous news.

Greek Revolution and how it was played in Crete

The revolution began in April 1821 and lasted until 1830. The Cretans, when they were informed of the outbreak of revolution in mainland Greece and the islands, decided to revolt. The decision was taken at the meetings that took place in Sfakia on April 7 and April 15, 1821 (Monastery of Our Lady of Thymiani), with the participation of chieftains and experts from almost all of Crete. Despite the countless battles given by the Turks, they arrived at Sfakia, defeating the Sfakians in Askifos. However, independent of their victory, the Turks knew that the revolution had not been suppressed since many warriors had resorted to mountainous areas. On March 20, 1822, the Philhellenic Colonel Joseph Balestra, sent by Mr. Ypsilantis. Balestra considered that the struggle had to concentrate on conquering a fortress city, choosing Rethymno as the most appropriate target. This is because it would be easier and more efficient to manage businesses than Loutro Sfakia, which was remote in the South. Thus, after the Turks failed to occupy Rethymnon, they were blocked in their forts with the Greek revolutionaries, destroying the water pipes. The Sultan was led to seek the help of the Egyptian regiment Mehmet Ali to stifle the revolution on the island. On the island, 10,000 soldiers and 500 horsemen were deported, led by Hassan Pasha. In Western Crete, Hassan Pasha, seeing the courageous resistance of the Greeks, decided to change tactics, forcing Patriarch Kallinikos to ask the inhabitants of the island to subjugate. A move that was not accepted by Cretan warriors.


During the revolution, however, there were many quarrels and internal contradictions. On 26 June 1823, the administrative “organization” of Crete was rallied in Arkoudeina of Apokoronas in an attempt to organize the struggle better, but this failed. During the fourth year of the revolution in 1824, many parts of Crete had been subdued. The struggle continued, however, by the rebels who had resorted to the mountainous parts. In 1825,  the Cretans had returned to the Peloponnese and the islands, in order to help the rebels and to recommence the Cretan Revolution. the victorious battle taking back the fortress of Gramvousa. The fort was used as a base for new businesses. The revolutionaries resorted to piracy to take munitions and food. At the same time in the rest of Greece, things were getting important positive progress, with discussions on the establishment of the Greek State and the summary thereof in the revolutionary areas. This reputation revived the Cretan struggle. In March 1828 the Greek revolutionaries occupied the Frangokastello fortress in Sfakia in order to mobilize the neighboring areas.

At the same time, with these events, Kapodistrias came to Greece as governor of the Greek State. At that time and with the contribution of Kapodistrias, in the rest of Greece, things were somewhat better and they had entered a course for Greek history. Since the summer of 1828, the Cretans controlled the entire island while the Turks were locked in the forts. Although hopes were being raised that all the rebellious regions would be included in the new Greek state, Crete remained under Ottoman rule mainly because of Britain’s claim. The Cretan revolution continued but stopped due to a ban on supply from the most independent state of Greece. The charismatic move was given in August 1830, when England, Russia, and France agreed to the definitive establishment of the state leaving outside Crete.

Greece gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire by a Protocol signed in London on January 22, 1830, between Great Britain, France, and Russia, leaving outside Crete. Under this treaty, Prince Leopold was appointed King of Greece, who later he refused his throne because he did not agree with the exception of Crete. Othon was appointed in his place. Crete was sold to the regent of Egypt Mehmet Ali, from Turkey in exchange for the services he offered to the sultan during the Revolution.

Categories: Traditions