Oxi Day in Athens, full of national pride
Greek: Επέτειος του οχι – The anniversary of ‘NO’
Oxi Day (sometimes spelt Ohi or Ochi) is a national public holiday and commemorated on the 28th October every year in Greece, Cyprus and by Greeks around the world. On this day in 1940, the Prime Minister of Greece, Ioannis Metaxas denied Benito Mussolini’s request to allow Italian troops to cross the border into Greece. He responded to the Italian ultimatum in French, the diplomatic language at the time, “Alors, c’est la gueree!” or “Then it is War!”.
In the days following, the word of Metaxas’ denial had spread around the capital and the Greek population took to the streets shouting “Oxi!”. His decision made on 28th October 1940, is commemorated each year as a day that represents bravery, solidarity and heroism for millions of Greeks all around the world.
Although Greece had tried to remain neutral in the early days of WWII, it was at this time it became allied with Great Britain. The Greek Army turned out to be a formidable force, holding back the Axis forces from entering Greece for almost six months. Winston Churchill commented at the time of the Greco-Italian war and famously said,
“Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks.”
WHAT’S ON IN ATHENS ON OXI DAY
The Oxi Day parade in Athens is made up of marching bands, clubs, societies and school children in their thousands marching through the city centre including starting along Leoforos Vassilissis Amalias Avenue, moving past the Hellenic Parliament at Syntagma Square and then up Panepistimiou Street. The parade will start at 11:00am and suggest you arrive by no later than 10:30am into the city centre in order to get a position. There will be road closures in the street surrounding these areas.
Why Athens Tips:
- Free entry into archaeological sites including the Acropolis (8am-3pm) along with the following museums; Acropolis Museum (8am-6pm), Byzantine Christian Museum and National Archaeological Museum
- Public transport will operate as usual, some road delays should be expected due to street parades
- Most retail shops will be closed
- Most restaurants and bars will remain open (particularly in main tourist areas)