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May Day and I am here in Greece

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Today is May Day, the first of May. My grandmother as a young girl used to go picking new spring flowers with her sisters. They would then leave these bundled bouquets anonymously on neighbors¢ doors. It is a spring tradition I always wished was continued widely in the States, but unfortunately I haven¢t really seen practiced.  

But here in Greece the holiday is still a celebration of flowers and springtime. May Day is also Labor Day in Greece, and most of Europe for that matter. Since it is a national holiday the whole country is off of work and the day is spent in leisurely celebration. Traditionally families will take a picnic to the countryside where children spend the afternoon picking wild flowers and making wreaths of them that will then be hung on the door. The wreaths stay up till St. John¢s Eve in June, when they are burned in mid-summer bonfires. I¢ve heard that on some islands taxi drivers will even hang wreaths on the front of their taxis. Also in honor of the holiday, small parades are held in Athens and around the country.

The family I am visiting here traditionally ushers spring in on May Day with the season¢s first dip into the sea. Although the sun is out and the days are warm, you¢d have to be a bit adventurous for the chill of the sea. I may not be swimming, but I will be weaving a wreath from the bright yellow wild flowers down the road, and I might slip some poppies and gardenias in from the garden. I couldn’t think of a better place to spend this holiday filled with the beauty of picnics, flowers, kites, and the blue sea.

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