Celebrated throughout Greece, Cyprus and the Greek communities around the world on October 28 each year, Ochi Day (also spelled Ohi Day, Oxi Day, or Okhi Day, (Greek: Επέτειος του «'Οχι», Anniversary of the "No") commemorates Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas's (in power from August 4 1936 until January 29 1941) rejection of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Mussolini on October 28, 1940.
The Italian ultimatum
At the start of the Second World War, Mussolini, through Ambassador Grazzi, delivered an ultimatum to the then Greek Prime Minister, Ioannis Metaxas, demanding that Greece allow Italian troops to occupy the country, or Italy would declare war and invade. Three hours were given to reply.
After reading the demands in the early morning hours of 28 October 1940, Metaxas rejected the ultimatum and replied with a simple Greek word: Oxi! - (no! Greek: Όχι!). This has since become a Greek battle cry that resurfaces defiantly every 28 October on walls throughout Greece and Cyprus and indeed amongst the thousands of Greek communities around the world (which number about six million).
The holiday also marks the date in 1940 when Greece entered the Second World War. Today, celebrations of Oxi Day culminate in a large, lavish military parade down the main boulevards of Athens and Thessaloniki. Soldiers, tanks, armoured vehicles and students parade through most Greek cities. Politicans tend to grab the opportunity to show their own spirit to the nation and to stress how it should be continued in future generations.
During the war, October 28 was commemorated yearly by Greek communities around the world and in Greece, and after WWII it became a public holiday in Greece. The events of 1940 are commemorated every year with military and student parades. On every anniversary, most public buildings and residences are decorated with Greek flags.
The Greek word for no is όχι ['o̞.çi], where ό is stressed and pronounced 'oh'; χ is pronounced similar to the 'h' in 'him' — ι is pronounced like the 'e' in 'he'.
The novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin features a fictionalized account of the meeting between Metaxas and Grazzi, written from Grazzi's point of view.