OXI Day (NO Day) in Kardamyli and why this day is extra special for me

How many kick-offs and seminars have you been to and listened to HR people or psychologists who said that we humans feel better if we can say NO more often!? Maybe it can also be inspiring to visit Greece during the OXI Day celebration?

My first OCHI (OXI) Day in Kardamyli 2018

On October 28, OCHI Day (NO Day) is celebrated in Greece. The day is a public holiday but not a national day as you might think. Elias and I experienced the first OXI day on October 28, 2018 in the village of Kardamyli, Mani, Messinia. We went one early morning to nearby Kardamyli (Mani, Peloponnese) to be part of the festivities. Pictures in the blog post come from this particular day and year.

Such an inspiring celebration of pride and joy! The priest, the mayor, the school parade, the marching and playing orchestra and the dancing young people: everyone seemed to be united in their love and pride for their country. “Everyone” seemed to be there: from parents of toddlers to Greek yayas, and Greek flags were held by those who can’t even walk and those who can no longer walk. The marching young people were straight in the back and clearly present in the moment. Very impressive how disciplined all the participants were! After the official celebration, the party continued in each tavern with dancing and ouzo. A day to remember!

For me, October 28 is a super special day: the day when the eldest son was born in Warsaw. I had no idea then that it will be such an important day in my new second country! And, yes, the firstborn son has strong “no” opinions, haha. Historical influences, perhaps? I have asked Elias to explain in more detail what the OCHI day stands for. Below is his summary.

What happened on October 28, 1940?

It was early in the morning of October 28, 1940 that Italy gave Greece an ultimatum similar to the one the Soviet Union gave Finland a year earlier. The ultimatum was that Greece would allow Italy to occupy certain unspecified “strategic areas” in the country. A no from Greece was considered a declaration of war. It is alleged that Metaxas responded with a laconic óχι (óchi) meaning no, but in reality he is said to have said “Alors, c’est la guerre!” (roughly “so then it’s war”).

Quite immediately after this, Italian troops entered Greece from Albania and were thus drawn into the Second World War. With this, Britain wanted to help Greece with troops, but Metaxas refused, knowing that this would mean Germany getting involved. When he died just a few months later, Papagos accepted the British offer, and indeed Greece was invaded by German groups .
The day began to be celebrated by the resistance movement as early as 1942, but only after the Second World War did the day begin to be celebrated as a holiday throughout Greece.