Get prepared for a lifetime experience in the island of Corfu!
At a time of fascist turmoil in the Europe of 1940, on the 28th October, Greece gave an unwavering, laconic reply to a list of demands from Italy. This was the most important ‘No’ in Greek (and possibly European) history, that instigated the first attempts at resisting the fascist dictatorships of the time and quashed the Axis Alliance’s spirit of megalomania. Introducing a very important National holiday for Greece, also means celebrating Greece’s contribution to a fascist-free Europe.
Following the end of a party held at the German embassy in Athens, the Italian Ambassador presented the Greek Prime Minister of the time, ex general Ioannis Metaxas, with a list of demands requesting that Italian troops occupy a number of strategic locations in Greece, to reinforce the sphere of fascist influence in central Europe even further.
Essentially, this was an ultimatum from Italy’s fascist leader Benito Mussolini, who called for Greece’s support or Italy would wage war. Believing that it would be an easy ‘Yes’ followed by a deep bow from Metaxas, Mussolini aimed to impress his German counterpart, Adolf Hitler, by subjecting Greece to a gradual occupation, and by strengthening the alliance’s political position and geographical territory.
Not willing to cave into political bullying and fascist pressures, Metaxas stood his ground and threw Italy’s threat out the window, with the Italian expectation of ‘Yes’ becoming a big, categorical Greek ‘No’ or ‘Ohi’ that reverberated on the lips of every Greek person, backing their Prime Minister, refusing the Axis Alliance a ...home in Greece. As promised, Mussolini replied with the Greco-Italian war that lasted 5 months and counted many casualties for Italy, especially. The tenacity of the Greek resistance led to the Germans becoming involved in a war front that they were not anticipating, with further dire consequences for the Third Reich as World War II progressed across Europe.
The Greeks resisted with the same fervour as Metaxas' ‘Ohi’ was uttered, with the same uncompromising spirit that characterised them during ancient times too: the classical expression of defiance, ‘Molon Labe’, meaning ‘come and take [them]’, was famously spoken by Leonidas, Warrior King of Sparta in 480 B.C. to King of Persia’s emissary, who demanded Greeks to surrender their weapons before the Battle of Thermopylae.
28th of October 2016 marks the 76th anniversary of this important day and is celebrated nationwide in Greece with military and student parades & processions in the morning. During this day, all the households proudly display the Greek flag on their balconies, while schools and banks are closed as are the majority of shops, stores and businesses. However, that doesn’t mean complete standstill in Greece, as the Greeks don’t particularly want to spend their day off, at home! The cities, towns and villages are alive with all sorts of festivities during that day, while all the restaurants, bars and cafes are all looking forward to drawing passersby in and treat with a drink, to say “Χρόνια Πολλά” (‘Hronia Polla’)!
If you are staying with us in Corfu around the Ohi day, whether it’s at our sunny resort at Mayor Capo di Corfu with your family, or centrally at our Mayor Mon Repos Palace Hotel with your partner, a visit to Corfu old town is the perfect way to get the gist of this important holiday that is an annual tradition, full of Greek guts and glory.