Why do Greeks eat salted cod on Independence Day?
If you’re new to Greece you might be confused by the sight of locals everywhere tucking into plates of “bakaliaros skordalia” – fried salty cod with garlic sauce made of potato and olive oil – on Greek Independence Day, March 25.
Aren’t they supposed to be smack in the middle of the Greek Orthodox Lenten period where eating any kind of sea creature with a backbone is forbidden?
Well, the reason behind this delicious annual tradition, which goes back to the 15th century, is that March 25 isn’t just a National Holiday to commemorate the start of the Greek War of Independence in 1821. It’s also the religious holiday of The Annunciation, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and a joyful celebration that permits just for one day the consumption of fish, oil and wine amid the 40-day fast.
The reason for cod, even though it’s not a Greek fish, is that it’s readily available and affordable to most. As for the garlic? If anyone knows the reason, please do tell us! Meanwhile, you’ll find “bakaliaros skordalia” available from food vendors and tavernas all throughout the capital on March 25th so do be sure to sample the Taste of Independence for yourself!