This week covers two countries that couldn’t be more different – the Czech Republic and Greece. In fact, the only thing they have in common is the Roman Empire.
The Czech state, formerly known as Bohemia, was formed in the late 9th century as a small fiefdom around Prague. It was under the control of the Great Moravian Empire, which fell in 907. In 1002, the area was recognized as part of the Holy Roman Empire. One hundred years later, the country was ruled by the Luxembourgs, a European royal family. Over the next six hundred years, the kingdom faced crusades, integration, recatholization and Germanization, eventually becoming part of the Austrian Empire in the 19th century. The Republic of Czechoslovakia was formed in 1918 and became a Communist-ruled state in 1948. On January 1, 1993, after years of invasion and the Cold War, Czechoslovakia dissolved into the Communist-free regions of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. It has been a political, cultural and economic centre of Central Europe for over 1,000 years. Prague was not only the acting capital of the Holy Roman Empire but also played a major role in the Protestant Reformation, the Thirty Years’ War and both World Wars.
The flag of the Czech Republic is the same as the flag of the former Czechoslovakia. The red and white halves represent the ancient Coat of arms of Bohemia. Because the two stripes alone were identical to the Polish flag and the same colours as the Austrian flag (red-white-red horizontal stripes), a blue isosceles triangle was added to the hoist side in 1920. When Czechoslovakia separated, the Czechs adopted the flag in direct violation of a constitutional act.
Officially the Hellenic Republic and known since ancient times as Hellas, Greece has long since been thought of as the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy (Aristotle, Plato, Socrates), the Olympic Games, literature (Homer), political science, major scientific and mathematical principles (Archimedes, Pythagoras, Euclid) and drama (the comedy and tragedy masks are ancient symbols of Greek Muses). Wow, what a history!
Advanced Greek civilization began in the Bronze Age with the Cycladic civilization on the islands of the Aegean Sea at around 3200 BC, followed by the Minoan civilization in Crete (2700–1500 BC) and the Mycenaean civilization on the mainland (1900–1100 BC). Considering this is where Greece’s story begins and its history continues with Alexander the Great (356–323 BC), the Hellenistic period and Roman Empire (323 BC–4th century AD), the Byzantine Empire (4th century–1453), the Ottoman Empire (15th century–1821) and the Greek War of Independence (1821–1832), I can’t possibly cover everything here. I urge you to check out the Wikipedia page. Greek mythology itself is astounding! Greece is such an important part of the world’s legacy.
Modern day Greece is a different story, suffering greatly since 2010 with a recession, debt crisis and austerity measures. It became part of the European Union in 2000 and is a founding member of the United Nations.
The Greek flag is composed of nine equal horizontal stripes of blue and white with a white cross on blue in the corner. The flag was adopted in 1822 as a naval ensign and became the national ensign in 1828. The cross symbolizes Eastern Orthodox christianity. There are several theories of the significance of the stripes, including symbolizing the Green sky and sea, the nine Muses (the goddesses of art and civilization), the shield of Achilles, the goddess Athena and flags used during Byzantine and Ottoman times.
THE SQUARES – WEEK 39
Square one is the Birdsfoot Spike. Square four is a “V” for the alphabet blanket, as are squares two and five.
Square seven is a dedication square. My grandmother, Helen, passed away last Sunday. She’d been in the hospital since July, suffering from dementia, and had just celebrated her 97th birthday. It wasn’t sudden but it is sad. She loved the boys, calling them her “Sweeties”. I chose this flower square for my Nanny because she loved flowers. Every time I brought her a bouquet she would take a flower and put it in a glass container to make it last longer. I’ll always remember the smell of her facial powder, her humming, the annual Christmas baking, “don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” her Scottish stubbornness and the day she walked me down the aisle so I could marry the man I love.
I would like to thank everyone for all the condolences and flowers. I’m stunned by the outpouring of kindness, especially from our friends.
Square Count: 273
Bonus Squares: 2