Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

Significance of Oxi Day on October 28 in Greece

ahdhfid.jpgPhoto from

Oxi Day on October 28 commemorates the anniversary when former military general and Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas said, “No” to an ultimatum made by Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini to allow Italian forces to occupy strategic locations in Greece or otherwise face war back in 1940. That makes 2014 the 74th anniversary.

The motivation behind Mussolini’s ultimatum was an attempt to impress his ally Adolf Hitler, by securing what was thought would be an easy victory and expanding his fascist regime. But when Italian Ambassador Emanuele Grazzi presented the demands at dawn after a party at the German embassy, it was clear that Greece was destined to enter WWII with Metaxas’ unwavering refusal.

Though there is no documented proof that Metaxas responded with a simple “no” or “oxi,” the word perfectly encapsulates the longer reply said to be either “You shall not pass” or the French phrase “Alors, c’est la guerre” (“Then it is war”). Residents were reportedly shouting ‘oxi’ as they ran through the streets to arm themselves and prepare for war. Less than two hours later, Italian troops stationed in Albania attacked the border.

Initial success by Italians was fiercely countered by Greeks, causing Mussolini to embarrass himself and call Hitler for help. Greek and British forces continued to fight and decimate German troops, which was considered to be the most powerful army in Europe, until Greece surrendered in Epirus to conclude the Greco-Italian War lasting six months. The extent of casualties caused Hitler to delay an attack on Russia, thus subjecting his troops to harsh winter conditions and contributing to the defeat of Germany.

For many, Oxi Day is more than an anniversary commemorated with parades of schoolchildren in Thessaloniki, military grandstanding and flag waving. It is a day to remember Hellenic values, passion and ‘filotimo,’ and the courageous words and deeds of ancestors who fought for this land with flesh and blood. May we one day honor this country by mirroring the virtues set forth for us in decades past and be worthy to inherit its rich legacy.

29-10-07_89428_1gif.jpgPhoto by Giorgos Konstantinidis/Eurokinissi


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Commemorative euro coins with a special Greek connection
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In the News

Spectators still banned within a 500 meters of parade” — AP
Greek protesters call president ‘traitor’ at parade” — Reuters
Greek politicians feel wrath of public” “Will skip Oxi Day parade” — Kathimerini
Thessaloniki military parade canceled after protesters block route” — Kathimerini
Student gives military the moutza” — Eleftherotypia

The Author

Kat is a well-traveled American journalist and author. To learn more, see “About Me.”

  • was created in 2007 to present meticulously researched original articles that fill a gap left by traditional media, government portals and commercial websites run by people without credentials.
  • @LivinginGreece is a Twitter feed curated from recognized Greek and international news agencies to provide breaking news about Greece, plus real-time updates and insider tips mined from 17 years experience.

Note: Please note my copyright policy and be aware that violations will be pursued.


  tsevdos wrote @ October 28th, 2007 at 13:27

Lovely post. I really like the “filotimo” word you’re using. Is there an english translation of this word?

Kat Reply:

JT – There is no exact English translation of ‘filotimo,’ as often happens with Greek words or any language. But I feel this man has a relatively good explanation. Some people say it means “respect,” but it means much more than that.

  arammos wrote @ October 28th, 2007 at 18:50

I can’t say something about your post. We must understand to celebrate this day and solve our problems another day… We can’t speculate only these days.

Kat Reply:

T – The post is not a criticism or pointing to problems to solve…nor based on speculation. It’s about the heralds and sacrifices of the past that brought glory to Greece, which should be remembered and inspire us to a brighter future. Filia :)

  ein Steppenwolf wrote @ October 28th, 2007 at 22:10

The Greeks won in the first two months because they were prepared for the war and their bases were much closer to the front that Italy is to Albania; they managed to mobilize 130 thousand men in a few days, outnumbering the Italians. But even the modest greek advance of about 100 km made communications with the front difficult, prohibiting any further advance.

The resistance against the Germans was rather unsuccessful, Salonica falling in just three days. The alleged fatal delay of the Russian campaign caused by the greek resistance is rather a myth. The total german casualties were some insignificant href=”″>five thousand men.

Kat Reply:

ein S – I don’t use Wikipedia for collecting research, I use several diverse sources without overt nationalistic bias and whatever else has attribution to solid references, then do my very best to hit the middle of the road. Reporting on GR is particularly difficult because there are so many different versions. If I change something according to what you’ve told me, someone else will write and tell me something to contradict that. In fact, I’ve seen much different stats than what you gave me — which is the reason I quote no stats and never label anything “successful” or not — and I’ve still irritated people with this rather plain vanilla, non-nationalistic version of Oxi day.

Please, can we at least agree on honoring courageous acts and words of the past and look toward the future?

  photene wrote @ October 29th, 2007 at 01:12

I think this was a great post, Kat, and true to the spirit of the day! Thank you.

  Kristie wrote @ October 29th, 2007 at 15:13

That was beautifully written and so inspiring. Thanks :)

  graffic wrote @ October 31st, 2007 at 20:06

I will send this to a friend that love “war stories”. He loves them so much that even if he studied computer science in his final year he prepared a document about Aegean war ships. He was also the one who told me about the “german delay” to go to russia and other stories about the germans in Crete :P

The wikipedia, although is useful, sometimes contains a lot of incorrect things. Only if you’re an expert on the subject you can fix them. But if you’re an expert, you don’t ask wikipedia :)

  Dino wrote @ October 31st, 2007 at 23:37

@ein stepenwolf…
Salonica fell because there were no real forces defending the city, since the bulk of the Greek army and the not long ago commonwealth expeditionary force were either in the Albania front or in Thrace to protect the north-east from a hovering Bulgarian offensive. Even the commonwealth force numbered a puny 50000 men. Greece was attacked at the same time, by Italy, Germany and Bulgaria, already exhausted financially and militarily by a 6 month campaign. At the point were the Germans entered, there was practically no Greek army and the army in Albania was cut off between Italians and Germans. The fact that op.Barbarossa was delayed is by means no fiction, since Hitler stated that later to Finish Field Marshal Mannerheim. In recognition of their indeed firece resistance, greek soldiers were not taken prisoners and officers were allowed to keep their side arms. Greece at the time was about 7 million and Germany, Bulgaria, and Italy a combined 100. Still Greece from October 28th 1940 until may 41 when Crete fell, managed to hold. Remind you, France fell in 8 days…

Just a bit of a history insight…mein …ein stepenwolf..

  exa wrote @ January 5th, 2009 at 12:13

Greeks are so proud of the word ‘filotimo’ as it can’t be directly translated and in my experience, thats all they can be proud of. I have experienced the true act of the word by foreigners and more around the world by the Greek diaspora than ‘dopyi’ in Athens and Greece where I have a big Greek family and ‘friends’.

Greeks in Greece need to stop resting on their olive laurels, in my opinion.

  Marlena wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 00:41

I am in Greece for Oxi Day this year, and thank you for your poignant and inspiring words. I am very proud to be Greek and know this country can handle the difficult times and will ultimately triumph.

  Vasilis wrote @ October 28th, 2010 at 01:03

I’m Greek and proud also, but my eyes are open not blinded by nostalgia, pride or nationalism.

It’s easy for Greeks who don’t live in Greece full time to fool themselves into thinking the country will weather the storm. They’re not even here! But Greeks created this mess, so we can’t be too clever, can we? We should have said ‘Oxi’ to self-indulgence, corruption and all the BS to begin with.

  mdh wrote @ October 25th, 2011 at 17:39

Comment 1
Found this of great interest. People can say what they want about Greece but I love the country and the people and reading this article has added to my sum of knowledge about the country that gave us democracy. The turmoil Greece is going through at present has been created by what I term the Fourth Reich. Oxi to the corrupt Eu and oxi to it’s new weapon, the destestable euro.

Comment 2
Britian is also having problems, not anywhere as bad as Greece. But my love of Greece, respect for its people and admiration for its culture was first experienced at school and nurtured by many visits to Greece. I will not retract my statement re: the EU and the euro, but will say again that problems or not I love Greece.

Kat Reply:

Answer 1
It’s easier to love a country when not living with its problems full time and hate the euro when your country isn’t using it.

Answer 2
Visiting a country on holiday is like dating a beautiful woman for a few weeks; you don’t really know her.

There are problems everywhere, and there is good and bad in every country.

  Danae wrote @ October 27th, 2011 at 10:05

Snap. Loved both answers and most points raised above.

I love Greece as well, and I’m sad the circumstances have led me to live abroad for most of my life (11+years). As proud as I am of our ancient history, literature, culture, food and lifestyle, I’m equally ashamed of what the Greeks (politicians & civilians) have done to catastrophically destroy it. The politicians for the uncontrollable greed and ultimate corruption to the bone, and the citizens for going along with the “system”, for not standing up for themselves & to their peers and for adopting the belief that he who pays his dues is the fool. Who’s the fool now?

Such a shame, breaks my heart.


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