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May Day is here!

May, the fifth month of the year refers to the ancient Thargiliona month during which the famous Antheoforia were celebrated in Ancient Gteece   .

The ritual feast of Antheforia, today May day celebration,  was dedicated in ancient times to Demetra, the ancient Goddess of Agriculture, and her daughter Persephone , who during May is believed that she comes back to earth  out of the down wo rd, tot the earth .

The  May Day celebration marks the final victory of the summer toward winter , the prevalence of life over death and has roots dating back to pre-Christian rural rites for fertility of the fields and , hence , animals and humans 

The ancient celebration of May Day is kiept alive through the ages with various  manifestations, by the oldest one being the Flower Festival , the festival of flowers, the first official celebration of Greek flower. Today Flower Festivals take place all over Greece, in towns , by the biggest being held in Kifissia , Attica each year on May 1st , and also in the fields, in mainland Greece and the islands    

At the Flower Festival in Ancient Greece young women , "the  kanifores"  were carrying the fresh May floweres from the land,  marching majestically to the sanctuaries. 

The Festival was  founded first in Ancient Athens and then spread to other cities of Greece .

According to legend , the Flower Festival  " resurrecting " the slain god ... Evanthis , epithet of Dionysus , from the spilled blood of which sprang the ampelos. 

When  the Romans conquered Greece , the celebration of May Day , has not ceased to exist but was  on the contrary enriched, by the Greek and the Roman people's contribution to the beauty of the flowers based on the Romans' belief that  flowers represent beauty of the gods and bring power , glory , happiness and health. .

Over the centuries , the original meaning of May Day was altered, but traditions survived as mere folk festivals ( behavior trees , green branches or wreaths of flowers , proclamation of King or Queen of May , dancing around a decorated tree or a pole Carousel )
May Day is one of the few holidays without religious content , with events occurring in the folk culture of many European nations , which have been preserved to our days


Attic Red Figure Vase,  390 B.C, British Museum London
Dionysus embraces Ariadne in the company of Eros (Love). Dionysus wears a robe draped loosely across his shoulder and a flanged stephane crown decked with ribbons. He holds a tortoise-shell lyre in one hand and casts his head backwards in ecstasy. Ariadne is dressed in an elaborately embroidered gown, wears a stephane crown and earrings, and balances a tympanum (a type of drum or tambourine) on her hand hand. Eros flutters at their side tapping a drum.

Watch this on 3D , Go to Greek to me !  May Day Photo Album


(by wikipedia) May 1st the day that celebrates Spring.

Maios (Latin Maius), the month of May, took its name from the goddess Maia (Gr Μαία, the nurse), a Greek and Roman goddess of fertility. The day of Maios (Modern Greek Πρωτομαγιά) celebrates the final victory of the summer against winter as the victory of life against death. The celebration is similar to an ancient ritual associated with another minor demi-god Adonis which also celebrated the revival of nature. There is today some conflation with yet another tradition, the revival or marriage of Dionysus (the Greek God of theatre and wine-making). This event, however, was celebrated in ancient times not in May but in association with the Anthesteria, a festival held in February and dedicated to the goddess of agriculture Demeter and her daughter Persephone. Persephone emerged every year at the end of Winter from the Underworld. The Anthesteria was a festival of souls, plants and flowers, and Persephone's coming to earth from Hades marked the rebirth of nature, a common theme in all these traditions.

What remains of the customs today, echoes these traditions of antiquity. A common, until recently, May Day custom involved the annual revival of a youth called Adonis, or alternatively of Dionysus, or of Maios (in Modern Greek Μαγιόπουλο, the Son of Maia). In a simple theatrical ritual, the significance of which has long been forgotten, a chorus of young girls sang a song over a youth lying on the ground, representing Adonis, Dionysus or Maios.

 At the end of the song, the youth rose up and a flower wreath was placed on his head.

The most common aspect of modern May Day celebrations is the preparation of a flower wreath from wild flowers, although as a result of urbanisation there is an increasing trend to buy wreaths from flower shops. The flowers are placed on the wreath against a background of green leaves and the wreath is hung either on the entrance to the family house/apartment or on a balcony. It remains there until midsummer night. On that night, the flower wreaths are set alight in bonfires known as St John’s fires. Youths leap over the flames consuming the flower wreaths. This custom has also practically disappeared, like the theatrical revival of Adonis/Dionysus/Maios, as a result of rising urban traffic and with no alternative public grounds in most Greek city neighbourhoods, not to mention potential conflicts with demonstrating workers.



The  wreath of May

One of the most famous traditions that still connects us with the traditional May Day is the   May wreath, a a celebration of spring and nature with ancient roots ,

The celebration of May Day is associated with the human joy for the spring and vegetation  which is symbolized by the May wreath, handmade  ​​from various fruits and flowers and   handpicked from the land, to hung on the Greek doors, from the first of May till the Saint John day of June.  
Picking flowers for the May wreath  is still a beloved tradition all around Greece, which is  believed to  joyfully the connection of man with nature ,lost today in the dull and poor big Greek cities .

In parts of Asia Minor , tradition wants in every hoop besides flowers, a garlic  to be put for the spell, a thorn for the  enemy and an ear for good harvest . 
 On the Dodecanese island , people gather a special flower to put on the wreath called " Bright Eyes " that is  believed that whoever  has it, is always bouncing and luck.

Vintage Greece 

The folklore details of the greek May wreath

According to the director of the Folklore Center of the Academy of Athens, Aikaterini Kamilaki, the wreath was made with a rod of flexible and durable wood of vine or other, and was decorated with flowers and branches of fruit trees, such as almond, fig tree and pomegranate. It was decorated it with wheat and barley, and also with onion and garlic, to "extinguish" , according to traditon, the "bad eye".

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