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May 1, 2012

MAY 1ST (PROTOMAYIA)

MAY 1ST - PROTOMAYIA

 
     On the first of May we celebrate our Labor Day. It is observed as a holiday and all businesses and services are closed, as are the schools, too.

     It is the day to remember the struggles of the workers to obtain better working conditions. "Eight hours of work, eight hours of rest and eight hours of sleep" was the slogan back in 1886 when workers in Chicago started protesting for their rights. Similar protests started in 1892 in Greece when workers also requested to have Sundays off and insurance for accidents at work. Over the years there has been great struggle, often with casualties, in order for us today to enjoy the 'privileges' of working.

    Protomayia (May 1st) is also the celebration of Spring and this tradition goes as far back as ancient times when they had the celebration of flowers and life as the earth was 'ressurrected' after the long winter.


     Protomayia (May1st) is one of the few holidays we have that has no religious content or meaning. Nevertheless, there are plenty of customs and events associated with this day and they vary depending on local tradition.

      The one custom that is common throughout Greece is the making of the wreath, the wreath of May and hanging it on the main entrance door. This is a very fun activity especially for the kids when we are out in the country in touch with nature and picking the flowers for the wreath.  This wreath will stay on the door until June 24th when tradition (Klithonas) has it it will be burnt.

     The main thing that characterises today is the massive exodus of people out of the city and into the countryside. Great pic-nics are organised and there's lots of dancing and singing about Spring, as well.  It is a chance to take a walk out in nature, pick some flowers, come in touch with mother nature and create your own wreath. 

 

 

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