28 October 1940, the date when Greeks said “OXI” (NO!)
Ohi Day or Oxi Day is celebrated throughout Greece, Cyprus and the Greek communities around the world on 28 October each year. OXI Day commemorates the rejection by Greek Dictator Ioannis Metaxas of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on 28 October 1940, the Hellenic counterattack against the invading Italian forces at the mountains of Pindus during the Greco-Italian War, and the Greek Resistance during the Axis occupation.
This ultimatum, which was presented to Metaxas by the Italian ambassador to Greece, Emanuele Grazzi, shortly after 03:00 am on 28 October 1940, who had just come from a party in the Italian embassy in Athens, demanded Greece allow Axis forces to enter Greek territory and occupy certain unspecified “strategic locations” or otherwise face war. It was allegedly answered with a single laconic word: όχι (No!). However, his actual reply was, “Alors, c’est la guerre!” (Then it is war!).
In response to Metaxas’s refusal, Italian troops stationed in Albania, then an Italian protectorate, attacked the Greek border at 05:30 am—the beginning of Greece’s participation in World War II (see Greco-Italian War and the Battle of Greece).
On the morning of 28 October, the Greek population took to the streets, irrespective of political affiliation, shouting ‘ohi’. From 1942, it was celebrated as Ohi Day, first mostly among the members of the resistance and after the war by all the Greeks.
During the war, 28 October was commemorated yearly in Greece and Cyprus and Greek communities around the world, and after World War II it became a public holiday in Greece and Cyprus. The events of 1940 are commemorated every year with military and student parades. On every anniversary, most public buildings and residences are decorated with national flags. Schools and all places of work are closed.