Protomagia, the first day of May, is International Labor Day in Greece and it’s a bright, fun, holiday that’s enjoyed across the country.
The national holiday is traditionally celebrated with locals gathering for picnics at nearby villages and the countryside, where they fly kites with family and friends and gather blossoming flowers along the way to take home.
The flowers are then made into wreaths called “Stefania” which they hang on the front door to welcome the last month of Spring and to celebrate the upcoming arrival of summer. It is also where some residents living on the islands have their first swim of the season.
Protomagia finds its origins in ancient Greece as a celebration of nature’s rebirth, spring, and flowers. The month May was named after the Greek Goddess Maia, who was linked with the Ancient Roman goddess of fertility, Bona Dea, whose festival was held in May. The goddess took her name from the ancient word Maia, nurse, and mother.
May, according to Greek folklore, has two meanings: The good and the bad, rebirth and death.
To celebrate the day, there are usually parades and other festivities around Greece. As with every cultural event, May Day celebrations vary by region; for example in Corfu, locals walk around holding a cypress tree trunk, covered with yellow daisies, Cretans from Heraklio, host an annual Protomagia flower show. Other towns and islands organise parades and other joyous events to welcome May 1st.
Kali Protomagia, Happy 1st of May!