Ochi Day Celebration in School
On October 28, 1940, the former Prime Minister of Greece, Ionannis Mitaxas, simply said "NO," or "Ochi" to Mussolinis ultimatum demanding an Axis invasion in Greece during the second world war. October 28th marks Greece's participation in the war – which brings forward many emotions among the Greeks, including national pride, unity and strength.
Today, Ochi Day is national holiday in Greece. In the weeks leading up to the event, the Greek children learn about its importance in school.
In the 2nd Primary School of Vrontados, we, the European volunteers, had the chance of observing how the celebration of Ochi Day can be done.
The pupils learned about the history of Ochi Day in their lessons. With help from their teachers, the children understood the purpose of celebrating October 28th every year, as it is such a major milestone in many Greeks' lives.
One of the activities the children took part in, was presenting a play for their parents. As the play was based on the events of Ochi Day, the pupils learned about how October 28th 1940 affected Greece in the war. Every student did a good job, and played their assigned role with much passion. The performance featured heartbreaking farewells between family members and spouses, marching soldiers and Greek flags. In addition, traditional Greek culture was in focus, with the dancing of “Hasapiko” and reading of war poetry. The pupils also sang songs, such as "O λαός " and "Κορόιδο Μουσολίνι," which today are associated with the Ochi Day Celebration.
The students at the primary school also practiced for the annual parade which takes place on Ochi Day. The parade is important in Greece, as it honors the Greek army and the soldiers who fought in the Second World War. The Greek flag was hoisted in the school, accompanied by the students' acapella music.
Around noon, the fourth, fifth and sixth class walked down to “Afanis Naftis,” which is a statue portraying an unknown sailor. The statue is the emblem of Vrontados. In front of this majestic artwork, the schools of the village were gathered. The purpose of the meeting was to honor “Afanis Naftis,” and the memory of the many people lost at sea. Greek flags were carried, a moment of silence was observed, and after turn, two students from each school walked up to the statue with a wreath. It was a touching moment, and a memorable experience for everyone present.
We very much enjoyed learning about Ochi Day, which is an important event here in Greece. It is nice to see the children so interested in their country's history, as well as seeing them enjoying the planned activities for the celebration.