Greeks Say ‘No Way’ on Ochi Day
On the 28th of October every year Greece celebrates the power of the negative. Military parades, coastal celebrations and special Greek Orthodox Services commemorate the day, in 1940, that Greek President Yanni Mextaxas declared ‘Ochi!’, ‘No!’ in Greek, and rejected Benito Mussolini’s ultimatum that Greece be occupied by Axis forces or face war. Against all odds, and to their own amazement, the Greeks defeated advancing Italian troops, driving them back into Albania. Although Greece went on to be occupied by Germany, Greeks still celebrate Mextaxas’ tenacity, their fierce resistance and unlikely victory with great pride.
The historic city of Thessaloniki celebrates with special gusto as the date coincides with the day of Saint Dimitrios, the cities patron, and a celebration of their independence from Turkey. All three of Thessaloniki’s Universities hold special lectures and educational events seeking to inspire patriotism and preserve national pride for generations to come.
Greek Cypriots also observe the 28th of October as a national holiday with lively military parades and, in the islands coastal cities, naval marches. Just as in Greek municipalities, Cypriots deck the streets with the Greek flag and
military banners to welcome parade goers and street dancers.
Ochi Day in the Greek capital, as you might expect, is particularly impressive as military parades include a cavalcade and a procession of tanks. However, in Athens and across Greece, the most important aspect of the celebration is food.
Although museums and attractions are closed on Ochi Day, tavernas, bars and restaurants have roaring trade serving large traditional meals to locals and tourists alike.
Join the Cypriot festivities with flights to Paphos, or celebrate Ochi Day in Greece with frequent budget flights to Crete and Rhodes throughout October.