‘No’ means no, in Greece

In Greece, they celebrate something called “Oxhi Day.”

“Oxhi” — and this is the rough spelling of the word, given that the Greek alphabet looks nothing like ours — is the Greek word for “no.”

It’s meant to mark then-Greek Prime Minister John Metaxas’s refusal to let Italian troops use Greek ports during the early years of World War II. Metaxas told Italian dictator Benito Mussolini “oxhi!” to his ultimatum; Mussolini then invaded Greece on Oct. 28, 1940 — and promptly had his troops slaughtered by the Greek army as they sought to advance south from Albania.

The Italian invasion stalled in the face of the ferocious Greek resistance. Adolf Hitler’s Nazi troops came in to rescue Mussolini from further humiliation — and conquered Greece.

Oxhi Day has been a big deal for Greece.


Now the word takes on a fresh meaning. The Greeks have said “oxhi” to demands for more austerity, which was a condition of more bailout money from the European Union.

The result might be that Greece leaves the EU, becoming — in the words of some observers — a “fringe nation” in Europe.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vows to renegotiate a better deal for Greece. His left-wing government has grown weary of the austerity demands that others have placed on his country.

But to be candid, the Greeks seem to need some more austerity to help them curb their spendthrift habits. They have spent themselves into a tremendous debt crisis that they cannot solve — seemingly — by themselves.

I wish my the people who live in the country of my ancestors had voted the other way. The future of a once-vibrant nation now appears at best to be murky.

Just saying “oxhi!” might not be enough to save this proud country from ruin.