How much do you know on the folklore and history behind this important day?
May 1st is International Labor Day and in Greece it is called ‘Protomagia’ (literally meaning the first day of May). It is an urban holiday and people traditionally go to the countryside for picnics, to fly kites, and to gather wild flowers.
Greek Protomagia & Folklore
The custom of Protomagia has its roots in ancient Greece – it is a celebration of spring, nature, and flowers. Flower wreaths, typically made from hand picked wild flowers, will be hung on the doors of many homes in a way to welcome nature and all things good.
Maios (May) the last month of Spring took its name from the Goddess Maia, a goddess who took her name from the ancient word Maia, the nurse and mother. May, according to Greek folklore, has two meanings: The good and the bad, rebirth and death. The custom celebrates the final victory of the summer against winter as the victory of the life against death go back to the ancient years and culminate at the first day of May. This day was also dedicated to the goddess of agriculture Dimitra and her daughter Persephone, who on this day emerges from the under world and comes to earth. Her coming to earth from Hades marks the blooming of nature and the birth of summer.
Some May Day History
May 1st is International Workers’ Day, also known as Labor Day in some places. It is a celebration of laborers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labor movement, anarchists, socialists, and communists and occurs every year on the 1st of May. The date was chosen as International Workers’ Day by the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago on 4 May 1886.
May Day is a national public holiday in most European countries, however, not all countries celebrate the day specifically as Labor Day. Historically, the earliest May Day celebrations are traced back to the Floralia festival, a festival dedicated to Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, that was held on April 27 during the Roman Republic era.
Source: Xpat Athens