Greeks have a thing for celebrations, anyone visiting the country for the first time could easily sentence “Everything is an excellent excuse to celebrate”! Well, honestly, it is quite right!
May 1st couldn’t be missing in the annual celebration calendar. The International Labour Day is Protomagia (meaning the first day of May) in Greece, and there are some customs worth exploring.
First of May, National Holiday in Greece
If you find yourself in Greece during this national holiday, you will be a witness of the joy this spring day brings along. Everybody is getting ready for warmer days. Summer is just a few weeks away and, especially in seaside areas, the locals attempt even their first swim for the season.
On Protomagia, visitors to Greece will be able to see village gatherings in the countryside. As it is a national holiday, everything is closed, with the exception – of course – of cafes and many local tavernas.
Customs of Greek Protomagia
Protomagia finds its origins in ancient Greece. It is, in fact, a celebration of nature’s rebirth, spring, and flowers. It is easy to spot flower wreaths, usually homemade from wildflowers, hanging on the doors of every house or chapel. These are called Stefania and is the usual way people welcome spring.
The last month of spring May is named Maios in Greek. The name comes from the ancient term Maia, which is the Greek word for nurse and mother as well as a midwife. According to ancient traditions, the local folklore celebrates the final victory of summer over winter as a metaphor of the prevailing of life against death.
Protomagia celebrations are deeply connected to some of the oldest traditions of the local culture. One of them was the Anthesteria, an ancient Greek flower festival.
Nowadays on Protomagia day, it is usual to see people picking flowers and families visiting farms, parks, and seasides for a picnic. Traveling to Crete during this period can represent an outstanding opportunity to experience one of the most colorful celebrations.
Venture in some of the hinterland villages, and chose a taverna for lunch. It will also be a great occasion to listen to live local music, learn some dance movements and, why not, eat some of the most amazing food of the Mediterranean.
Spending Protomagia in Heraklion
If you choose Protomagia to visit Heraklion, make sure you select a well-located hotel in the center of town. It will allow you to reach any place in the area comfortably and even with public means of transport.
If you are all about magnificent views, do not miss the spectacular Lato Boutique Hotel, with its unique Sea View rooms and its panoramic rooftop Herbs Garden restaurant.
If you are a tech-savvy person, with a green-minded vision, the comfortable rooms of Olive Green Hotel will cater for all your needs. High-tech elements combine with fresh decoration and utter respect both for nature and local customs.
For those into gastronomic experiences, Legacy Gastro Suites will bring a new dimension to the word luxury. The unique scenario of the suites offers a luxurious environment, à la carte, in-room menu, and some of the best views of Heraklion’s landmarks.