Oxi Day, is commemorated each year on October 28 in Greece and Cyprus, and by all the Greeks living around the world. This day is celebrated in remembrance of the moment when the then prime minister of Greece, Ioannis Metaxas, refused to let the Italian troops enter Greece’s border on October 28, 1940, during the Greco-Italian War. After receiving an ultimatum from the Italians, he responded in French (which was the diplomatic language at that time) that Greece refuses their demand even if it leads to war. Following this, Metaxas’s refusal became famous around the country and the people came out to the streets, shouting “Oxi!” (which means “No!” in Greek). This is remembered as a brave decision by Metaxas and is believed by millions of Greeks to be a heroic act.
Ioannis Metaxas, the formal military general and the prime minister of Greece was given an ultimatum by the Italian prime minister, Benito Mussolini, in the Greco-Italian War. The Italian army required a passage to access the Greek-Albanian border. The ultimatum signaled the occupation of the Italian army of some areas of Greece.
Metaxas rejected the ultimatum by allegedly saying “Then it is war!” His refusal caused Greece to stand on the side of the Allies in the Second World War. The word “Oxi” became synonymous with this day as it represented the day the Greeks said “No” to the Italians trying to invade their country. The locals ran across the streets while screaming “Oxi”. The Greeks not only refused Mussolini’s wishes but they also made the Italians fall back from Albania. It is believed that if Metaxas hadn’t said no, the Second World War would have lasted longer.
There were many theories regarding the refusal of the Italian ultimatum, one of which is that if Greece had approved Italy’s entry, Hitler would have invaded Russia in spring rather than winter. During the time of the Greco-Italian War, Winston Churchill stated that from then onwards they would say “heroes fight like Greeks” rather than “Greeks fight like heroes.”