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Ochi Day

October 28, 2007

Welcome on this bleary Sunday morning.

In common with most all of Europe and much of the world today is the day to wind the clocks back an hour. Autumn is officially here – fortunately no one has told the sun in Cyprus yet. Temperatures are due to hit around 26 degrees this afternoon.

No doubt most of us go to bed on Saturday evening thinking how nice it will be to have that extra hour in bed on Sunday morning …

But today is also the 28th of October and here it is Ochi Day.

Ochi is Greek for No so Ochi Day is, literally, No Day or but is often described as the Anniversary of the ‘No’.

This dates back to Mussolini’s march across Europe in 1940. Apparently the Italians issued an ultimatum demanding passage through Greece and the right to occupy key strategic locations. The official Greek response, so the story goes, was Ochi, No. In response the Italians stationed their troops in Albania and then attacked Greece, bringing the country into WWII.

There is a suggestion that the response of Ochi is an urban myth and that the actual response (in French for reasons that escape us right now) to the ultimatum was Alors, c’est la guerre (“Then it is war”).

Either way Greece, and Cyprus, still recognise Ochi Day and it now a national holiday. And logically (yes, that is sleep-deprived sarcasm that you can hear) the local Boy and Girl Scout company get to parade – complete with a marching band.

At least this year we knew what was going on as we were woken by the massed drums and bugles at the end of our sleepy street at 7.30am as they marched through the village to lay wreaths on the memorial.

scout-band.jpg

Sadly it took a full ten minutes to realise that, because of the clocks changing, it was actually 6.30am. Somehow that makes it all feel a little earlier than it really is!

For the rest of the day it seems we are doomed to re-set clocks. A quick tally suggests that we have over 30 across the house … and one of us doesn’t even wear a watch ;-)

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