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Sunday, 30 April 2017

May Day

May Day or Protomagia in Greek

1st May is another holiday in Greece, for schools and workers.  Also a time for strikes, protests and demonstrastions  in the middle of Athens.

It is a workers holiday, Labour Day in other countries, and a day to celebrate Spring.  When the children were young we always went on a picnic, along with crowds of other Greeks doing exactly the same, and made a May Wreath of wild flowers to hang over our front door.

Everything will be closed except of course cafeterias, tavernas and cheese pie and sticky cake shops.

This year it falls on a Monday so we have another long weekend.  Poros is full again and Monday we'll have a huge influx of day trippers.

We pick daisies, poppies and other wild flowers, roses from our garden and any flowers we can pilfer from the neighbours' front yards.  A head of garlic or an artichoke bring good luck.  

Daughter Danae cuts a supple olive branch or some grapevine and joins it in a circle.  Then the flowers are woven around the stefani (wreath) and tied in place with string.  

We usually tie a bunch of wild flowers to the front of the car or bike as well.

It is left there till 
June 24th
 Summer Solstice
 the fiesta of St John 
when the wreath is burned on a fire ideally lit at a crossroads.

 The celebration of Spring and flowers comes down to us from the story of Dimitra (the greek goddess of harvest/ fertility of the earth) and daughter Persephone.

Pagans, the Orthodox Church or the 12 Gods of Ancient Greece.  Take your pick.


When we visited the garden centre last week the whole area was awash with yellow and white chamomile.  The air was full of the refreshing scent of this carpet of herbs.  My sister in law picks bags of chamomile and lays it out in the sun for a few days to dry it out and then stores it in a clean pillow case.  She gives us jars of the dried herb whenever we need some to calm a nervous stomach or an agitated mind.

Kala Protomagia

The poppy (paparouna).  Sacred to Dimitra and Hypnos, the God of Sleep (....and opiates)

NB Note very well.  There was no mention of food in this post (except for a passing reference to picnics and sticky cakes)


  1. Your holidays are so happy always, our are mostly sad though we also have a lot of food in ours:)

    1. Did you notice, there was no food in this post, except for a mention of picnics and chamomile!!!!

    2. LOL Don't worry Yael, there is more food coming!

  2. Love spring. But we just had Samhain here. So we lit the bonfire and gave thanks for the harvest we just had. So now we go into the six months Persephone spends in the underworld with hades.
    Makes sense she goes back to you guys lol

    1. Spring when the sun starts to warm the bones and autumn when the rain gives us a bit of greenery.... the best times of the year.

  3. Here in France people give each other small sprigs of Lilly of the Valley.

    1. Niw that is a beautiful gesture. Wonderful scent

  4. May Day is relatively new here as a bank holiday and at first some employers in small businesses would not recognise it as a day off. Now it is jusr celebrated on whatever day is the first Monday in May and everybody goes shopping.

    1. Another holiday. I was reading recently about easter in NZ. No-one celebrates it as a religious holiday. Just a great time of the year with hot cross buns in the stores, a different sort of chocolate and a day or two off!

    2. I noticed on the building sites around here today many of the self-employed tradesmen were working as usual, as is my Peter.

    3. The self-employed do as they wish and most of them wish to work and make some money. Good on Peter

  5. Beautiful, fragrant, informative, I enjoyed it all - but there's nothing wrong with a bit of food, we all have to eat - cheese pie and sticky cakes sound very comforting. ;)

    1. It is getting too hot for cheese pies and sticky cake. Iced coffee and greek salad will be on the menu now. However I do have a cheese pie recipe to post sometime soon