“Ohi Day” commemorates the rejection by Greek prime minister Ioannis Metaxas of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on the 28th of October 1940, to allow Italian forces to enter Greece or otherwise face war.
Every year, on the 28th of October, Greece celebrates this day with military and student parades that take place in every city and town of the country.
Besides the fact that this is a special day, there are more reasons for some people to be happy. The kids for example spend hours out of their classes for parade rehearsals about 3 weeks before the event.
The parents feel proud for their children. The teachers feel proud for their students. The "episimoi" feel honoured for reasons that no one cares. The taverns' owners are happy because after the parade, everybody will go out to eat and drink alcohol. Usually "tsipouro". It is kind of funny but the "ohi day" is totally connected with drinking alcohol.
I was in Larisa city. It was not the first time i was there to take photos of the parade. I didn’t really want to shoot the parade the way it is. I wanted to approach it in a different way. I tried to be part of it and walk side by side with the people. This day everyone is holding a camera, so i guess, a lot of people would feel angry for being inside their subject as an intruder. I actually took part at the parade holding my camera. Of course i was not moving my hands up and down...
The weather was good and thousands of people were there to watch the event. Some were holding flags on their hands. Especially the kids seemed to enjoy waving these around and over their heads.
There was a straight road for about 350 meters. The kids started first, walking in groups that represented their schools. Each school was followed by an other. Older kids started to come from private and public high schools.
Groups of people from Crete and Pontus. The red cross. The military band. Soldiers and members of the special forces of the Greek army and others. Everybody was walking in a line, trying to be perfectly synchronised.
There was a place, a simple construction, where some people were standing and watching the parade. They were separated from the citizens. They are mostly politicians and people with high positions in the army and the church, like mayors, colonels, archimandrites etc. They are called "episimoi". It is difficult to translate this in English. Let’s say that they are the high society. A specific moment, the people from the parade must turn their heads and look at them for a few seconds. It happens because this is a way to honour the "episimoi".
It was different at the past. There were military heavy vehicles and tanks on the road, and combat aircrafts flying over our heads making noise. It' s been a few years since it has stopped. Now days the large military and student parades take place only in Athens and Thessaloniki.
It didn’t last long. An hour later it was over. Everyone started to leave hastily because they had to find an empty table in a tavern. Don’t forget, this day is about saying No.