From the Athens News
MORE THAN 1,000 people became Greek citizens during a ceremony at Athens’ Sporting stadium on February 29. Athens Prefect Yannis Sgouros and Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos presided over the event, which was the first and the biggest naturalisation ceremony of the year. They led the 1,131 citizens through the oath of allegiance: “I swear to be true to my homeland, to obey the constitution and the laws of this country and to consciously fulfil my duties as a Greek citizen.” The vast majority (1,106 of the 1,131 people naturalised) is ethnic Greek from Northern Epirus, Albania. One Filipino, one Ethiopian, three Egyptians, one French national, two Americans, four Poles and three Turks were also among those naturalised. The vast majority of those naturalised is also Christian Orthodox. Only five said they are Catholics and two are Muslims.
I find the subject of the oath of allegiance very interesting. Some people here on this blog have told me that people should basically give up their own cultures if they want to become Greek. Of course, people can no sooner do that than give up their eye or skin colour. Their cultural backgrounds are as much a part of them as anything else. So when I read that part of the oath was
I swear to be true to my homeland
I thought… yes of course ! Right. Well. Hmm. What does that mean ? My roots are in England, as you know. I have never had to swear allegiance to my homeland. Only immigrants have to do that ! (Although there is talk that that is going to change and we might be introducing a more American approach to the subject of allegiance). I refer to being English rather than British (which is on my passport) because there are other more complicated issues in being British. (another post)
Be true to my homeland ?
I cannot, and do not wish to, undo being English. That was where I happened to have been born by some twist of something or other. But what does being true to my homeland mean ? That I swear that I will drink endless cups of tea (definitely liking this one) until the day I die or does it mean loyalty to the crown (definitely not liking this one) on pain of death ? Does it mean preserving my customs or traditions? If that is the case, which ones are necessarily English ? We are a multi-cultural society and what might be a natural custom or tradition for me might not be for the next English person.
I know I seem to be making light of this but I do like to question things. If being English was one thing, then it would be easy to say I accept or reject it. But it’s not. So if I was to swear to be true to my homeland what would that mean ?
I love many things about England. Its incredible greenness. Its vibrancy. Its humour. Its darkness and hidden passion. Its intelligence and innovation. Its frivolity and depth. There are also things I don’t like about England. Its propensity to violence. Its arrogance. Its delight in gossip and the misfortunes of others. Its consumerism and shallowness. And dare I say it… its weather !
So again, I ask what does it mean to swear to be true to my homeland ?
And why am I asking this question ? (How I love sticking my neck out…) If you are Greek and were swearing to be true to your homeland, what would that mean ? There are a lot of (humorous) posts out there based on stereotypes… you know you’re Greek if… 50 things English people like… etc. As it says in the article, there are many people who are now Greek but they might be very different from you. Some of them have different traditions and customs to you, some have different religions, different identities. They swear to abide by the constitution and laws of this country and to be good Greek citizens and they also swear (in some part) to be true to who they are.
Greece WAS a fairly homogeneous country but that is changing. What does being Greek REALLY mean to you ? For those who have become Greek citizens, what is important for you to hold on to ? What does the oath mean to you ?
I’m not going to post this.
Yes, I am.