Greek customs of Protomagia


Protomagia (May 1st) is International Labour Day in Greece, it is a holiday when people traditionally go to the countryside for picnics, to fly kites and to gather flowers.

Greek customs of Protomagia
Greek customs of Protomagia

Today, Greeks will also be celebrating the last month of Spring for 2023. The custom of Protomagia has its roots in ancient Greece, and it celebrates Spring and nature with a flower festival.

Maios (May) took its name from the Goddess Maja, a goddess whose name comes 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 life against death goes back to the ancient years.

This day was also dedicated to Dimitra, the goddess of agriculture, and her daughter Persephone. On this day, she emerged from the underworld and came to earth. Her coming to earth from Hades marks the blooming of nature and the birth of summer.

Another ancient celebration that Protomagia has its roots in Anthestiria, a celebration in honour of Dionysios (the Greek God of theatre and parties), a festival of souls, plants and flowers, celebrating the rebirth of man and nature.

On May 1, the custom around Greece is to decorate the doors of houses with flower wreaths as a way of welcoming the power of nature and the upcoming summer into the home. The wreath is made ​​from various flowers, handpicked and knitted together. In some parts of Asia Minor, people put flowers on each wreath, garlic for the evil eye, a thorn to protect the house from enemies, and an ear for a good harvest.

The wreaths adorn the doors of houses until the day of St. John the Harvester (June 24) when all the wreaths of the neighbourhood are gathered and burnt in a big fire, the fire of the saint.

Kali Protomagia- Happy 1st of May!

*Photo credit: Flower Crowns By Lauren 

GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.

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