The fascinating story behind the 7th of March Celebration in Kos & the Dodecanese.
Updated: Mar 7, 2019
As the 7th of March approaches the locals of the Dodecanese Islands prepare to celebrate the 71st anniversary of a historic milestone, when the twelve islands of the Aegean Sea fully integrated with the modern Greek state [Hellenic Republic], after many years of being under foreign rule.
The 7th of March is a day of national pride and hope for the citizens of the Dodecanese Islands as it signifies their union with the modern Greek State.
During the years of the Ottoman commandment in Greece, the Dodecanese isles were considered as part of a different territory, that of the Ottoman Empire.
The inhabitants of the islands were permitted to uphold various benefits given that they submitted to Ottoman rule.
By the Suleyman's decree, they paid a special provisional tax that permitted them to have a semi independent status, restricting Ottoman commanders from meddling in their affairs or abusing the populace.
This, combined with the strategic position of the islands, at the intersection of Mediterranean, permitted them to thrive.
The overwhelmingly Greek population (only Rhodes and Kos had a Turkish community) maintained very strong ties with mainland Greece, even more so, following its Declaration of Independence in 1822, with numerous islanders joining the Greek War of Independence.
The outcome was that briefly, the northern part of the Dodecanese (including Samos) became a part of the Eastern Sporades and Southern Sporades. Kasos played a significant role due to its exceptional sailors, until its destruction by the Egyptians in 1824. The vast majority of the islands lined up to become a part of the new Greek state in the London Protocol of 1828, however when this finally materialized in 1830, the islands were left out of the new Kingdom of Greece.
It is certain however, that the nineteenth century ended up being one of the islands' most prosperous, with various mansions dating back to this period.
When the Italian-Turkish war broke out over Libya, in mid 1912 Italy, in an effort to apply pressure on the Ottoman government, Italy occupied all the present-day Dodecanese apart from Kastellorizo.
After the finish of the war and with the signing of the Treaty of Ouchy, Italy kept the control of the islands as a guarantee for the execution of the settlement. The occupation ensued until after Italy announced war on the Ottoman Empire (21 August 1915) amid the First World War.
The integration of the islands with the Greek State came after many struggles and sacrifices.
You can a find a detailed timeline of significant events here.
In the later years the anniversary of the union between the twelve island cluster and the modern Greek State is celebrated region wide with school parades, church ceremonies and public events.
Image Credits [in order of appearance]: Aegean News | Yorgis Yerolymbos | Pinterest