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Greek Culture & Holidays: The Ohi Day Celebration

What is Ohi Day, and what role does it play in Greek culture?

Simply put, on Ohi Day, Greece commemorates the day on which the Greek prime minister refused an ultimatum provided by the Italians in 1940. This significant action led to (and took place at the same time as) a chain of events that unraveled throughout WWII and the Greco-Italian War.

In this article, you’ll learn the most essential Ohi Day facts: its history, current celebrations, and related vocabulary.

At, we hope to make every aspect of your language-learning journey both fun and informative!

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1. Ohi Day Foundations: What is Ohi Day in Greece?

On Ohi Day, we celebrate the anniversary of OHI (NO). It’s a day of national celebration and a holiday, in memory of the “no” that the Greek prime minister and dictator Ioannis Metaxas answered to the Italian government’s ultimatum, received via the Italian ambassador, that demanded the free access of Italian troops to Greece.

Metaxas refused this imperialistic policy of the Italian fascist Benito Mussolini, also known as Douche, on the very same day that the Italian troops invaded Epirus. So, the involvement of Greece in World War II began with the Greco-Italian War.

The Italians retreated in the spring of 1941. This first victory of the Allies against the Axis powers boosted the morale in enslaved Europe. What followed, however, was the German invasion of Greece and the Occupation that lasted four horrible years.

During the Greco-Italian War, music and front-page caricatures boosted morale in Greece. Sofia Vembo was the national voice that provided encouragement to the Greek soldiers on the front line with patriotic and satiric songs such as “Children of Greece, Oh Children,” “Douche puts on His Uniform,” and “Sucker Mussolini.”

2. When is Ohi Day in Greece?

Ohi Day is October 28

Each year, Greeks commemorate Ohi Day on October 28.

3. Ohi Day Celebrations & Traditions

Laying Wreaths

Today, every year during the events on October 28, especially during school events, these songs are always heard. Other popular songs include “Women of Epirus” and the marches “Pindos,” “Renowned Macedonia,” and “Little Evzone,” especially in parades.

The military and student parades that take place on this day have special solemnity, and in some cases wounded war veterans participate as well. However, due to their advanced age, there are fewer and fewer veterans participating each year.

More Ohi Day celebrations include general flag decorations, wreath laying at various military memorials in the country, and of course, our National Anthem. Its name is “Hymn to Liberty” and it’s usually heard at the end of the events. As a show of respect, we must always stand when we hear it.

Mussolini was satirized perhaps more than any other individual of that time. Musical revues, songs, and caricatures always depict him being weaker than the Greeks, who are usually shown wearing tsarouhia, the Greek traditional shoes.

4. What Did Metaxas Really Say?

Historically, Metaxas did not just reply with a simple “no.” Do you know how exactly he replied?

Metaxas replied to the Italian ambassador in French, which is an official diplomatic language, and said Alors, c’est la guerre!, in other words “So, this means war!” This refusal went through the Greek press with the word “NO,” hence the name “Anniversary of NO.”

5. Essential Ohi Day Vocabulary

A Document

Here’s the essential vocabulary you should know for Ohi Day in Greece!

  • Όχι. (Óhi.) — “No.”
  • επέτειος του «ΟΧΙ» (epétios tu OHI) — “Ohi Day”
  • Ιταλός (Italós) — “Italian”
  • Ιωάννης Μεταξάς (Ioánis Metaxás) — “Ioannis Metaxas”
  • σχολική παρέλαση (scholikí parélasi) — “school parade”
  • Σημαιοφόρος (simeofóros) — “standard-bearer”
  • στρατιωτική παρέλαση (stratiotikí parélasi) — “military parade”
  • Σημαία (siméa) — “flag”
  • Τελεσίγραφο (telesígrafo) — “ultimatum”
  • Σοφία Βέμπο (Sofía Vémbo) — “Sophia Vembo”
  • 28η Οκτωβρίου (ikostí ogdói Okrovríu) — “October 28”
  • ελληνοϊταλικός πόλεμος (elinoitalikós pólemos) — “Greco-Italian War”
  • Κατοχή (Katohí) — “occupation”
  • Έλληνας (Élinas) — “Greek”
  • Επέτειος (epétios) — “anniversary”
  • Πρωθυπουργός (prothipurgós) — “prime minister”
  • Γελοιογραφία (yeliografía) — “caricature”
  • κατάθεση στεφάνου (katáthesi stefánu) — “wreath laying”
  • επεκτατική πολιτική (epektatikí politikí) — “imperialistic policy”
  • Σατιρίζω (satirízo) — “satirize”
  • Σύμμαχοι (Símahi) — “Allies”
  • Άξονας (Áxonas) — “Axis”
  • Μπενίτο Μουσολίνι (Beníto Musolíni) — “Benito Mussolini”
  • πατριωτικό τραγούδι (patriotikó tragúdi) — “patriotic song”

To hear each of these vocabulary words pronounced, alongside relevant images, check out our Ohi Day vocabulary list!

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Happy Ohi Day!

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