Oxi Day commemorates the rejection by Greek prime minister Ioannis Metaxas (r. August 4, 1936—January 29, 1941) of the ultimatum, made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on October 28, 1940, demanding that Greece allow Axis forces to enter Greek territory and occupy certain unspecified “strategic locations” or otherwise face war.
This ultimatum was presented to Metaxas by the Italian ambassador in Greece, Emanuele Grazzi, on October 28, 1940, at dawn (04:00 am), after a party in the German embassy in Athens. It was allegedly answered with a single laconic word: όχι (No!). However, his actual reply was, “Alors, c’est la guerre” (“Then it is war”).
In response to Metaxas’s refusal, Italian troops stationed in Albania, then an Italian protectorate, attacked the Greek border at 05:30 am—the beginning of Greece’s participation in World War II.
On the morning of October 28 the Greek population took to the streets, irrespective of political affiliation, shouting ‘Oxi!’. From 1942, the date has been celebrated as Oxi Day.
Hydriots celebrate Oxi Day with a morning wreath laying in the cathedral, followed by a parade of the island’s students, from Kindergarteners all the way through Maritime Academy cadets, through the port to parade music and drumming. Residents line the harbor, applauding and cheering as they pass.
This event marks the end of the season’s public festivities, which pick up again the following year with Apokreas, or Carnival. On the weekend closest to October 28, the summer tourist season is officially closed with the annual Fall Regatta.
To learn more about the history of Oxi Day, please view the video below, posted to YouTube on October 5, 2013, by cobone04.