Celebrated in Greek communities in the world, and of course, in Greece and Cyprus, Ochi Day is a special event on October 28th every year. It remembers the day where the Greek Prime Minister of the time, Ioannis Metaxas said no to the 1940 demands of his Italian counterpart, Mussolini that Italian troops should get free access to Greece. So, this day is important for a reason, let’s find out more.
What Is Ochi Day?
Ochi in Greek literally translated to “no” so the day celebrates the way Greece stood up to Italy during the Second World War. It did lead to their involvement in the war and started the Greco-Italian War. It was in early 1941 that the Italians retreated, but this was not the start of peace for the Greeks. Germany invaded soon after, and what followed was four years of occupation.
After Italy invaded, Greece was pushed back deep into their country because they were not prepared for war in the same way the Italians were. However, in just four months they had pushed their invaders almost all the way back to the border. They were the first allied power to win a land battle in World War Two, despite being one of the smaller, least prepared nations.
The Greek efforts in the war were helped by several morale-boosting activities such as music from Sofia Vembo, an icon of the time. Her versions of “Children of Greece, oh Children” among others helped encourage the troops.
The simple “no” was not the only phrase used by Metaxas at the time. He replied in French since that was the mutual language used between himself and the Italian ambassador. He said “so this means war” – a firm no to their demands, hence why October 28th became Ochi Day.
How To Observe Ochi Day
One of the best ways to celebrate this day is to attend one of the many parades around Greece and Cyprus. Athens, in particular, has the most impressive displays. These are both military and student-led parades and celebrate those who sacrificed their lives to say “no”. They can be a solemn affair as people respectfully observe the fallen.
Another way is to spread awareness using the hashtag #ochiday or #sayno on October 28th. This can provide an excellent insight into how Greek communities celebrate around the world.
Other celebrations involve wreath-laying and flying the Greek flag, with the national anthem often sounding. If you want to get more involved, why not educate yourself on the events of the time. There are documentaries and filmed depicting what happened and they can be eye-opening.
Otherwise, even cooking some of your favorite Greek food can be a good way to immerse yourself in the culture and celebrate those who said “ochi” and gave up their lives. Why not speak to your Greek friends to ask them what it means to them and their parents, perhaps share a story of theirs on social media using the before mentioned hashtag so others can realize the importance of this day.