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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 GreekPod101.com, 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!

GreekPod101: The Best Greek Language and Culture Source

We hope you enjoyed learning about the Ohi Day celebration with us! Did you learn anything new? Does your country have any special days associated with WWII? We look forward to hearing from you, as always.

To continue learning about Greek culture and the language, explore GreekPod101.com. We provide an array of fun and effective learning tools for every learner, at every level:

  • Insightful blog posts on a range of cultural and language-related topics
  • Free vocabulary lists covering a variety of topics and themes
  • Podcasts and videos to improve your listening and pronunciation skills
  • Mobile apps to learn Greek anywhere, on your own time
  • Much, much more!

If you want to really make the most of your learning journey, be sure to upgrade to Premium Plus to take advantage of our MyTeacher program. Doing so will give you access to your own Greek tutor who will help you develop a personalized plan based on your needs and goals.

People say “It’s all Greek to me,” for a reason. It’s not an easy language. But at GreekPod101, we believe that you can master Greek if you put in the time and effort! And we’ll be here with help and encouragement every step of the way.

Happy Ohi Day!

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Greek Gestures to Help You Communicate Without Saying a Word

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Greeks are very passionate and expressive in verbal, as well as non-verbal, communication. Therefore, body language in Greek culture is taken quite seriously. You should expect a wide range of gestures to be used during communication. Some of them are widely used throughout the world, but others may have a different meaning, or are even unique to Greek culture.

In this blogpost, GreekPod101.com has gathered for you all the popular Greek gestures and nods, helping you understand non-verbal communication in Greece in-depth, from body language to express yourself during casual encounters with friends to common gestures in Greek business. Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet - How to Improve Your Greek Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

Table of Contents

  1. Greetings
  2. Positive Gestures
  3. Negative Gestures
  4. Rude Gestures & Gestures to Avoid
  5. Other Everyday Life Gestures
  6. Conclusion

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1. Greetings

When it comes to Greek greetings, a big smile is usually enough. However, there are some greeting-specific gestures, which enhance the greeting and are commonly used throughout Greece. Do you want to learn more Greek greetings? Check out our article on How to Say Hello in Greek, our video on Greek Greetings, or our relevant Vocabulary List. Here are just a couple of friendly gestures in Greek to help you get a conversation started; these are also commonly used worldwide.

1- Γεια! (Ya!) — “Hi!”

Woman Waving

Saying Γεια! (Ya!) in Greek is the most common way to greet someone. This greeting is often accompanied by the extension of the palm facing forward or toward the person you’re greeting, with the fingers close to each other. The movement of the hand is simple: just move your hand in the air freely by inclining it to the right and then to the left. This gesture can also be used when greeting people from a distance.

2- Χαίρω πολύ! (Héro polí!) — “Nice to meet you!”

Woman Reaching Out to Shake Hands

A proper introduction in Greek includes stating your name accompanied by Χαίρω πολύ! (Héro polí!) meaning “Nice to meet you!” and extending your hand forward with the palm facing the side, indicating that you want to shake hands. This gesture is common in both formal and informal occasions.


2. Positive Gestures

Here are a few positive Greek body language and gestures that you’ll want to know when visiting Greece.

1- Ναι () — “Yes”

Saying yes in Greek can alternatively be indicated by a very simple nod. Usually the eyes are slightly closed, and the head goes down. This nod is usually repeated two to three times, with the head going slightly up and emphasis on it going down. It can be used either along with the word Ναι () meaning “Yes,” or even without any verbal expression.

2- ΟΚ (Okéi) — “OK”

OK Sign

As you might already know, Greeks have integrated popular gestures from around the world into their own culture. That said, there are two popular Greek hand gestures of how to express “OK.”

The first one is extending the hand with all the fingers closed like a fist, except for the thumb. The thumb is extended and facing upwards. It’s basically the well-known “thumbs up” gesture, which can also be done with both hands, although in Greece it’s usually done with only one hand. This gesture in Greek culture is related to expressing that something is OK or went well. Further, it can be used to indicate that someone did a good job.

Within the same context, another gesture can be used alternatively. This gesture involves lifting the hand in the air with the palm facing forward, level with the face, while the index finger and the thumb are touching. The other fingers are stretched out and apart from each other. Again, this gesture is used to indicate that something is OK or went well, with no difference in usage from the thumbs-up gesture. Nevertheless, we’ll let you know that it’s used less often.

3- Ευχαριστώ! (Efharistó!) — “Thank you!”

Man With Hand to Chest

Saying Ευχαριστώ! (Efharistó!) or “Thank you!” can be done without even saying a word, using this common gesture in Greek. Just touch your chest with your right hand, usually where your heart is, and tap it two or three times. This is a very popular gesture, which shows gratitude and can be used independently, even without actually saying a word.

4- Victory Gesture

V for Victory Sign

Raising the hand and showcasing the index and medium finger is used in Greece to indicate a victory. This gesture is a symbol of peace worldwide; however, in many countries like Greece, it’s used in cases of success. That said, you can also spot Greek rappers doing this gesture as part of their performance, aiming to promote peace.


3. Negative Gestures

While in Greece (or anywhere!) you’re going to encounter situations where you need to say no or want to express your displeasure. Here are some Greek gestures and body language to help you do that, even without saying a word.

1- Όχι (Óhi) — “No”

The Greek gesture used to say “no” can be a bit tricky. It includes raising the eyebrows and tilting the head backwards instantly. This gesture often includes the mouth and a subtle clicking of the tongue. Most of the time, this gesture is done so quickly that you’re not even able to detect it. Although this might be one of the most difficult nods to understand and get the hang of, it’s widely used in everyday life. So, it would probably be wise to repeat your question until you actually hear Όχι (Óhi) or “No.”

2- Thumbs Down

Thumbs Down

The popular thumbs-down gesture is also used in Greece. It aims to express disapproval or to express that a given answer is wrong. For example, you can easily detect it in Greek TV shows where contestants are asked questions. If one of the answers is wrong, the audience or the host might use this gesture.

3- Μη! (Mi!) — “Don’t!”

This gesture is more like a warning. It’s used to warn someone not to do something. You can usually detect it when parents talk to their children or…their pets. It includes raising your hand like a fist, with the index finger extended and the palm facing forward. The hand is then tilted left and right (or vice versa).

4- Δεν ξέρω (Den xéro) — “I don’t know”

Woman Shrugging

While the picture above demonstrates the most common gesture for expressing you don’t know something on a worldwide basis, Greeks use a simplified version of this gesture. They don’t raise their hands, and they just move both of their shoulders up simultaneously. Quite often, this move is accompanied by clenching the lips. This gesture can also be used to express that you don’t understand something.


4. Rude Gestures & Gestures to Avoid

1- Μούτζα (Múja) — The Outward Hand(s)

Open Palm

Yes, this is a unique Greek gesture and is quite rude and offensive. And yes, you can detect it in many aspects of everyday life in Greece. It’s done by extending the hand with the palm facing forward and the fingers stretched and apart from each other. It can also be done with both hands facing the same direction and clapping.

Its meaning is obviously negative. It’s used when someone is really mad at another person, when the latter has done something wrong. You’ll see this often while driving in Greece, as Greeks tend to be very nervous and expressive drivers. So, for example, when a driver does something abnormal or exhibits reckless behavior, the others might lose their temper and do the outward hand(s) gesture.

We strongly advise you not to use this gesture, as it’s very offensive. If you happen to receive an outward hand while being in Greece, we recommend just smiling and apologizing.

2- Pointing at Someone with the Index Finger

Finger Pointing Sideways

In Greece, when talking about someone or to someone, it’s considered moderately rude to point at him or her with your finger. Although it’s not as rude as the aforementioned expressions, the next time you’re out in public, just keep it at the back of your mind to avoid this gesture as it’s still considered an insulting gesture in Greek.


5. Other Everyday Life Gestures

1- Snapping Fingers

For Greeks, snapping fingers is not only a dancing gesture; they also snap their fingers when trying to remember something. In everyday dialogue, for example when you can’t remember the name of a new colleague, you can snap your fingers two or three times in order to give yourself some time to think. In addition, this gesture is often used to motivate others to fill in what you’re trying to say.

2- I Need to Tell You Something

I Need to Tell You Something Gesture

When Greeks touch their lower lip with their index finger, it means they want you to come closer in order to tell you something—most of the time, in private. This gesture can easily be mistaken for the more common worldwide gesture meaning “Don’t talk.” However, there’s a slight difference: in the Greek gesture, the index finger is facing toward the lip and not sideways.


6. Conclusion

In general, understanding and using nods and gestures can be a life saver, especially if you don’t speak Greek. However, you should keep in mind that using gestures instead of words isn’t considered particularly polite.

Greeks usually use the aforementioned nods and gestures accompanied by relevant words and phrases, or only in cases when verbal communication isn’t attainable (e.g. when two people are trying to communicate from a distance). GreekPod101.com can help you master all the relevant Greek expressions, in order to act AND sound like a local. Start with a bonus, and download your FREE cheat sheet - How to Improve Your Greek Skills! (Logged-In Member Only)

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    • 1-on-1 Interaction with Your Greek Teacher: Learn directly with your teacher via Premium PLUS My Teacher. Get help with all your questions and problems.
    • Ongoing Professional Assessment: Get an assessment of your Greek. Understand your strengths and weaknesses so you know what to study next.
    • Your Own Personalized Learning Program: Your teacher will create a study plan based on your needs. If speaking is your weak point, your teacher will work with you to get you speaking like a native speaker.
    • Voice Analysis to Perfect Your Speaking: Learn to speak like a native speaker with the help of a real native speaker! Record yourself with Premium PLUS My Teacher and your teacher will give you crucial feedback on what to improve and how.
    • Weekly Assignments & Achievement Badges: You get assignments every week from your teacher. With every completed task, you unlock badges to mark your Greek improvement and accomplishments.

    Plus, and exclusively for Premium PLUS members who sign up for the 12-Month Challenge:

    New! 1-on-1 Learning App: Take Premium PLUS with You Everywhere!

    For the first time ever, members of our Premium PLUS plan can access every tool, resource, AND 1-on-1 instruction with our new Innovative Language 101 App! This means you can learn with your very own teacher, anywhere, anytime!

    Click here to get 12 months of Premium PLUS for just $199.

    But hurry: We have VERY LIMITED slots available for Premium PLUS due to a limited number of available Greek teachers.
    And you don’t risk a cent regardless of which plan you choose because joining is risk-free. Every purchase is backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not speaking Greek as fast as you’d like, contact us for a full refund.

    No questions asked.

    With more than 500 million lesson downloads, 10,000s of success stories and the world’s most advanced language learning system, GreekPod101 can and WILL transform your new year’s resolution into reality and having you speaking Greek from the very first lesson!

    Click Here to Join the Challenge Today & Save On Premium or Premium PLUS Now!

    To Mastering Greek,
    Team GreekPod101

    P.S. Remember, anyone who joins the 12-Month Challenge will also receive 12 months of free access to our exclusive Inner Circle. But hurry: Our 12-Month Challenge ends on January 15th, 2016 so ACT NOW!

    What are you waiting for? Click here to get UNLIMITED Greek lessons and be part of the exclusive Inner Circle!

    We’re Adding 3 New Languages For You To Study in 2016!

    Hey Listeners!

    Are you looking for a new language to study in 2016? As of right now, we currently offer 31 different languages that you can learn the fast, fun and easy way! But guess what?

    On January 1st, we’re adding 3 new languages to the Innovative Language family.

    What are they? Based on user requests, we’re launching Afrikaans, Romanian and Urdu!

    And the best part? You get 50% OFF for LIFE with the Founding Fathers Club Special at any one of these sites when you sign up for any Basic, Premium or Premium PLUS Plan. This special is only available for the first 101 takers per site and will never be offered again.

    But let’s get into the languages and language sites…

    AfrikaansPod101: This language is one of the official languages of South Africa. If you’re an English speaker, you’re in luck! Afrikaans is widely recognized as one of the easiest languages for an English speaker to learn. As a West Germanic language, Afrikaans shares many characteristics with German, Dutch and English.

    Click Here To Study Afrikaans Now!

    Click here to sign up for AfrikaansPod101!

    RomanianPod101: With over 24 million native speakers, Romanian is definitely a language worth checking out. Learners are usually surprised by how incredibly widespread the language is, with a notable amount of speakers in the USA, Australia and all throughout Europe. A romance language, Romanian is the official language of Romania and the Republic of Moldova.

    Click Here To Study Romanian Now!

    Click here to sign up for RomanianPod101!

    UrduPod101: Not only is Urdu an official language of India, but it is also the lingua franca of Pakistan. The language boasts over 60 million native speakers around the world and shares many traits with Hindi. And studying Urdu script presents an exciting challenge for any language learner!

    Click Here To Study Urdu Now!

    Click here to sign up for UrduPod101!

    If any of these 3 have been on your language learning wish list, be sure to get your Free Lifetime Account right now.

    The sites are ready. The lessons are ready. And more are on the way!

    Remember, You get 50% OFF for LIFE with the Founding Fathers Club Special.
    This is for new members only. Become a Founding Fathers Club Member and get 50% OFF for life on any Basic, Premium or Premium PLUS subscription. This special is only available for the first 101 takers per site and will never be offered again.

    • Founding Fathers Club: 50% OFF for Life for New Users Only
    • Access 100+ Audio and Video Lessons by Real Teachers
    • For All Members! New Audio and Video Lessons Every Week
    • Starting Speaking From Your Very First Lesson… Guaranteed
    • Learn on any Laptop, Computer, Tablet or Smartphone

    Stay tuned for even more great lessons and study tools to come in 2016!

    To your fluency in 2016!
    Team GreekPod101

    P.S. Join the Founding Fathers Club and learn at 50% OFF for life!
    The Founding Fathers Club is a lifetime 50% discount exclusively for early adopters – more specifically, the first 101 subscribers per site. Learn for as low as $2/month for Basic or $5/month for Premium. The price will always be the same, even when the deal is gone. And the deal is gone once the first 101 spots are taken.

    Click here to learn Afrikaans at 50% OFF for LIFE!
    Click here to learn Romanian at 50% OFF for LIFE!
    Click here to learn Urdu at 50% OFF for LIFE!

    The Anniversary Starts Now! 53% OFF Premium. The Biggest Greek Discount of 2015!

    The Anniversary Starts Now! 53% OFF Premium. The Biggest Greek Discount of 2015!

    Hello Listener,

    With the holiday season fast approaching, we understand your time is short and the to-do list is long so we’ll come straight to it:

    Your Dream of Learning Greek Will Never Be More Affordable Than During Our 10-Year Anniversary Countdown!

    During the special 10-Year Anniversary Countdown, GreekPod101 is offering 10 special deals that will help make your dream more affordable than ever! Each deal lasts just 1 day and we’re kicking this off with our BIGGEST DEAL FIRST, which is…

    MASSIVE 53% OFF 24-Month Premium – Click Here To Save!

    MASSIVE 53% OFF 24-Month Premium – Click Here To Save!<br />

    During our 10-Year Anniversary Countdown, we’re celebrating more than 500 million lesson downloads, 100,000s of success stories and 10 years of helping people realize their dream of learning Greek with one of our biggest deals EVER!

    Get Unlimited Access at 53% OFF & Speak Greek From Your 1st Lesson
    Our Premium plan is our most popular plan. Why? You unlock 110+ hours of Greek audio and video lessons by real teachers and the study tools you need to MASTER Greek. And today only, for less than half the price, you get unlimited access to:

    • Exclusive! App for iPhone, iPad or Android: Learn Greek anywhere, anytime. Take your Greek lessons on the go with you.
    • The Biggest Lesson Library in the World: 650+ Greek audio and video lessons by real teachers. From Absolute Beginner level to Advanced.
    • For Existing Members! New Audio & Video Lessons EVERY Week: As an existing member, you get new audio and video lessons non-stop.
    • Feedback from Greek Teachers: Have a question? Leave a comment and get feedback from our Greek teachers.
    • Printable Lesson Notes & Transcripts: Get each lesson in writing with PDF lesson notes and transcripts. Read along or review after a lesson.
    • Learning Guidance From the Pros: We guide you through the lessons. You’ll know which lessons to study and where to go next.

    This is THE Best Deal of 2015! Click Here to Save a Massive $127.20 on Premium!

    • Exclusive! Custom Lists App: Create your own Greek word lists and take advantage of other users’ lists to master even more vocab.
    • Motivational Progress Reports: Stay motivated and succeed with Greek. We track your progress so you know how much you’ve accomplished.
    • 2,000 Must-Know Words List: All the Greek words you need for conversational fluency. Use this with Flashcards and the Word Bank.
    • Smart, Memory-Boosting Flashcards: Learn Greek words FAST with Flashcards that improve your memory and quiz you on the hard words.
    • Your Personal Word Bank: Your personal word list. Save new words and phrases that you learn for later review.
    • Line-By-Line Pronunciation: Hear every line from the lesson conversation again and again. Great for improving reading, speaking and listening skills.
    • Voice Recording Tools to Perfect your Pronunciation: Record yourself and compare your Greek with native speakers’.
    • Review Quizzes: Review what you’ve learned after every lesson with quizzes.

    Ends Tonight! Click Here to Learn Greek for Just $4.70/Month or $0.15/Day!

    Warning! This Expires At Midnight – No Exceptions!

    Since it’s our 10-Year Anniversary, we’re truly pulling out all the stops and celebrating with special deals to suit any need or budget. However, be warned:

    1. All Deals End at Midnight: There will be no extensions made: Every deal during our 10-Year Anniversary ends at midnight and will NEVER be seen again!
    2. All Deals Expire in 24 Hours or Less: All deals will be announced in the morning and a reminder sent in the evening, so each offer lasts for 24 hours or less.
    3. Our Best Deal is NOW! That’s right: We’re starting off with our best deal FIRST during our anniversary with a BIG 53% OFF. That’s $127.20 in savings.

    Click Here to Get 53% OFF & Learn Greek with 110+ Hours of Lessons!

    We’ve helped more than 100,000 people realize their dream of learning Greek. And now, it’s even more affordable. You get 110+ hours of audio and video lessons and our ENTIRE learning system for just $4.70/month or $0.15/day. But here’s the best part:

    Signing Up is Risk-free With Our 60-Day Money-Back Guarantee.

    Take a full 60 days to try it for yourself. If you decide later that you don’t have time to learn Greek or if you are dissatisfied for any reason, contact us for a full refund.

    Here’s how you sign up and take advantage of this special discount:

    1. Click on any link to be taken to the coupon page.
    2. Enter your payment information.
    3. Finally, click on “Complete” at the bottom of the page.
    4. You’ll receive an instant confirmation email.
    5. Start learning Greek with 110+ hours of Greek lessons!

    Ends Tonight! Click Here to Learn Greek for Just $4.70/Month or $0.15/Day!

    Hurry, this opportunity ends at MIDNIGHT TONIGHT! Our dedicated customer service team is standing by to answer any questions that you might have.

    To Seizing Opportunities,

    Team GreekPod101

    P.S. Although we have more great deals on the way during our 10-Year Anniversary Countdown, today’s deal is your one and ONLY chance to save a whopping 53% OFF our most popular Premium plan…so don’t delay and make your dream a reality! Act now!

    Click Here to Get 53% OFF – Learning Greek Will Never be More Affordable

    P.P.S. A new offer starts tonight, 12AM (EST), December 8th, 2015. Take advantage right now because signing up is risk-free with our 60-day money-back guarantee!