May Day (Protomagia)

It is springtime on our farm! Small white flowers start appearing in the axils, the angle between the trunk and the leaves of the olive tree, emitting a very pleasant scent. Our trees will soon start blooming and bearing fruit. At the same time our team gets ready for the growing season. They begin pruning the olive trees to help pollination. This is a very important procedure in order to maintain the tree’s size, encourage air and light into the centre of the tree and stimulate vegetable growth. Also it helps control pests and diseases, eliminates dead wood and rejuvenates old trees.

The first day of May in Greece is associated with the custom of Protomagia (May 1st), a celebration of the awakening of nature after a long period of winter. With its origin somewhere between pagan rituals pre-dating the Olympian Pantheon and later folklore traditions, this celebration highlights the beginning of the spring, the victory of life over death. In mythology this was depicted in the story of Persephone, the goddess of fertility and vegetation who was forced to spend 6 months in the underworld. May 1st is the day she would emerge from the Kingdom of the Dead and all the trees would blossom in awe of her miraculous rebirth. Flowers have been at the epicentre of this particular day through the centuries. In modern times the biggest and most prestigious annual flower festivals are launched around May 1st in Greece, while everyone hangs a floral wreath on their door to invite the power of nature into the house. The wreaths decorate house exteriors until St. John’s Day (June 24th).

Floral wreaths are usually made from wild flowers which are handpicked in the countryside. Protomagia is a great opportunity for Greek families to visit parks and forests and they traditionally spend the whole day outdoors enjoying nature… and having glorious picnics. Freshly baked bread, olives, Greek salad with feta cheese wild oregano and olive oil, pastries and pies are only some of the Protomagia lunch basics.

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