Members mark Greek Bicentennial in their own special ways

This year, Greek communities around the world united to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Greek independence, and as expected, the Cretan Brotherhood joined in the festivities!

The significant milestone was marked with countless events and activities, including government functions, and even lighting shows that saw Melbourne landmarks don the famous blue and white!

However, culture lives not in occasional formalities, but in the everyday lives of the community, so we asked our members about their perspectives on the Greek Bicentennial!

What does the Bicentennial mean?

For youth committee member Taksia Tsaganas, the event was important for Greek identity.

“200 years of independence to me means freedom against oppression from the Ottoman empire. It means the wider Greek community in Greece and around the world are free to be Greek!” said Taksia.

Long standing club member Helen Matsamakis also explained how the commemoration has a very personal connection to her.

“The 200 years of independence makes me feel very proud to be Greek. Especially the fact that I had great, great, grandparents and granduncles in various generations who fought in the war. In 1997, there was a dedication on our family’s history in a Greek newspaper in Greece. They were from my father’s side of the family. We very proudly have this newspaper hanging on our wall! The one who fought around 1821 was Ιωσηφ Κωνσταντουλακης.” said Helen.

How was the Bicentennial Commemorated?

As part of her personal commemorations, Helen explains how she explored her family history.

“During the 200 years celebrations I got curious with my father’s ancestors and searched up his name, only to stumble across an excellent website called CRETE1821. This website mentions our relative, Σιφη Κωνσταντουλακης or otherwise known as Σηφακα. I also realised that there was a street in Chania named after him, “ΟΔΟΣ ΣΗΦΑΚΑΣ”. said Helen.

Members are encouraged to search for their own family history on the crete1821 website:

For former youth committee President Vasili Berbatakis, commemorations also featured family.

“I went down to the Shrine to attend the memorial service at the Hellenic Memorial. At night, my family drove around Melbourne to see the buildings and fixtures illuminated in blue and white.” Said Vasili.

Taksia and her family also attended many events to mark the occasion.

“My family participated in events at the Hellenic Museum and the Battle of Crete dinner dance. Personally, I was interviewed by SBS Greece to discuss my connection to the Papaflessas family.” said Taksia.

How did the Cretan Brotherhood contribute to commemorations?

The Cretan Brotherhood in formal capacities participated in a number of events that celebrated the Bicentenary, including the formal luncheon hosted by the Moreland Council, and the sold out Venizelia and Battle of Crete functions which this year also featured overlapping themes with the Bicentenary.

Vasili explained the important roll being a member of the Cretan Brotherhood played in his commemorations.

“It’s great to keep into touch with our compatriots, our language and culture. The Cretan Brotherhood provides that, especially with meaningful performances such as that recently danced at the Battle of Crete dinner dance, which commemorated both our 200 Years of Independence and 80 Years since the Battle of Crete.” Said Vasili.

Through family, identity or community it’s clear that each of our members has a special connection with the Bicentenary!

Ζήτω η Ελλάς!

By Emmanuel Heretakis with Helen Matsamakis, Takisa Tsaganas and Vasili Berbatakis.