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The Ohi Day

The “Ohi Day” or “Oxi Day” (which translates to “No” Day) is celebrated throughout Greece, Cyprus, and the Greek communities around the world on 28 October of each year. Ohi Day commemorates the rejection by Greek prime minister Ioannis Metaxas of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on 28 October 1940 and the subsequent Hellenic counterattack against the invading Italian forces at the mountains of Pindus during the Greco-Italian War and Greek Resistance during the Axis occupation.

Demonstration in the city center of the capital (Athens) a few hours after the declaration of war.
Demonstration in the city center of the capital (Athens) a few hours after the declaration of war.

Every year, a parade takes place during Ohi Day, in each Greek city. The parades are made up of marching bands, clubs, societies, and school children. Many people gather around them to enjoy the parade and cheer for their loved ones. In Athens, the parade goes through the city centre, including Leoforos Vassilissis Amalias Avenue, the Hellenic Parliament at Syntagma Square and Panepistimiou Street.

Parade of Greek soldiers dressed in the traditional uniform of the Greek army (Efvzones).
Parade of Greek soldiers dressed in the traditional uniform of the Greek army (Efvzones).

Greek resistance to the Axis powers during the Second World War was the longest of all the nations of western Europe, with the exception of the UK, which was never occupied outside of the Channel Islands.

According to historical records, Greece resisted for a total of 219 days against Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, and Albania between October 1940 and April 1941 when Nazi Germany launched a final, massive attack through Bulgaria.

By comparison, the nation of Norway resisted for 63 days, whereas France, which was a military superpower at the time, managed to hold the Axis powers for only 43 days.

During that time, Greece recorded 13,325 dead, 62,663 wounded and 1,290 missing in action. British, Australian, and New Zealand troops who fought alongside the Greeks suffered 903 casualties, and 1,250 wounded, while 13,958 of their men were captured by the Axis powers.

Days of Greek and European resistance to Axis powers

  • Greece 219 days
  • Norway 61 days
  • France 43 days
  • Poland 30 days
  • Belgium 18 days
  • Holland 4 days
  • Yugoslavia 3 days
  • Czechoslovakia 0 days
  • Denmark 0 days

Greek artists began to write patriotic songs, especially folk singer Sofia Vembo, whose songs, such as “Children of Greece, Oh Children,” “Duce Puts on His Uniform,” and “Sucker Mussolini” became anthems for the nation at war and inspiration for the soldiers at the front. Vembo was dubbed the “Songstress of Victory” by the Greek nation.

The Greek successes on the Albanian Front helped raise morale among the Allies, prompting British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to exclaim:

“Today we say that Greek fight like heroes, from now on we will say that heroes fight like Greeks!”

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