Upgrading 26th January

In 2012, through Greek Presidential Decree 7/31/1/2012, 26th January was proclaimed a Public Holiday of Local Significance (for the municipality of Aegina).

This is the day when, following the decision of the Third National Assembly at Troezen, Ioannis Capodistrias was sworn in at the cathedral of Aegina in 1828 as modern Greece’s first governor.

This decision, taken by the fighters of the Revolution in the face of opposition from the Great Powers, enabled Capodistrias and his government to embark on the mammoth task of organizing, from Aegina, the rebirth of Greece.

Quite a few people, not all of them Aeginetans, (1, 2 [particularly from minute 12]) think that this day should not only be celebrated locally but that it should be instituted as a “national day”, given that this was the first modern Greek government not imposed by “foreign powers” but emerging directly out of the seven-year-long struggle for independence and the decision of the National Assembly at Troezen in 1827.

Coincidentally, 26th January is Australia’s national day, but the day’s significance is controversial because it is the day that “European colonization” of Australia commenced with the establishment of a British prison at Port Jackson (today’s Sydney) in 1788. A number of aboriginal Australians and their allies call 26th January “Occupation Day”, as can be clearly seen in this satirical video.

The same young people have made caustic comment on contemporary developments in Europe:

But the Australia Day satire also contains a constructive proposal (at minute 2.16), namely for Australia’s national day to be transferred to 27th May, the anniversary of the 1967 referendum that led to the full recognition of the indigenous population as Australian citizens.

A change of his kind would make it possible for 26th January to be celebrated in future not as Australia Day, say, but as Europe Day.

Former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis might seem to be a natural emissary for conveying such a Greek proposal to Australians. But so far there is no sign of the idea having caught his imagination.

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