March Events & Festivals in Greece

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Clean Monday

Clean Monday (Kathari Deftera) is the first day of the 40-days Lent until the Orthodox Easter, the greatest religious celebration for Greece. It is a movable feast. Clean Monday also puts an end to the Carnival celebrations, sinful attitudes and non-fasting foods. Liturgically, Clean Monday begins on the preceding Sunday night at a particular service called Forgiveness Vespers, which culminates with the Ceremony of Mutual Forgiveness, at which all present will bow down before one another and ask for forgiveness. Kathari Deftera is a national holiday across Greece celebrated with outdoor excursions, the consumption of fasting foods (olives, taramosalata, halva, vegetables, seafood), as well as the widespread custom of flying colorful hexagonal kites. Special events and activities also take place in all towns and villages.

Annunciation of the Theotokos

March 25 is a very important date for Greece as it marks both the Feast of the Annunciation (or “Evangelismos” in Greek) and the anniversary of the Greek War of Independence.

The Feast commemorates the announcement by the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would become incarnate and enter into this world through her womb. March 25 is exactly nine months before Christmas.

The Feast of the Annunciation is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom which is conducted on the morning of the Feast and preceded by a Matins (Orthros) service.

Greek Independence Day

Armed Forces Parade in Athens (Credit: Skylax30, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

This day coincides with a National Holiday in Greece. It was on March 25, 1821 when Bishop Germanos of Patras raised the flag of revolution over the Monastery of Agia Lavra in the Peloponnese. The cry “Freedom or death” became the motto of the revolution that would eventually give the nation its freedom after 400 years of rule by the Ottoman Empire.

For that reason, towns and villages throughout Greece hold a school flag parade, during which schoolchildren march. There are also armed forces parades, the biggest one takes place in Athens.

A custom across the country on this day is to eat crispy, fried Cod fish with garlic sauce (Bakaliaros skordalia).


Thessaloniki Documentary Festival (TDF)

Held every March in Thessaloniki, TDF is a leading force in Southeast Europe. Founded in 1999, it is celebrating the art of documentary through a program of multi-awarded films, masterclasses by acclaimed film industry professionals, events and initiatives. TDF is organized under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Culture with the support of the Greek Television Network (ERT), and is administered by the International Thessaloniki Film Festival which is held every November. TDF’s programme includes: Greek and international selection of current productions, retrospectives, Doc Market, Pitching Forum.


Oenorama

The largest and most important Greek wine exhibition in the world, this year is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Taking place on March, 4-5-6, at the “Zappeion Megaron” in Athens, it includes more than 250 exhibitors at separate stands and more than 2500 wines and spirits. Showcasing Greek wines since 1994, Oenorama has been the privileged companion of the so-called “Greek Wine Renaissance.”