Labor day on the first of May in East Crete is also the Feast of the Flowers and the celebration of Spring. Many Greek families drive out in the mountains, to olive groves, meadows and hillsides. Once arrived they start picking flowers and make May Day wreaths to hang over their house doors for health and happiness, good luck and to banishing evil until it goes dry.
It symbolises the regeneration of nature with spring, which we want to bring to our home. Greek families will picnic in the countryside but most of them will go to one of the local tavernas for a wonderful lunch or traditional dinner on this bank holiday.
Over the centuries, the original meaning of May Day was altered and the ancient Greek customs survived as mere folk traditions. May Day is one of the few holidays without any religious content and is also celebrated in most European nations. According to the tradition, May was named after the Roman goddess Maia, which is the Greek word for midwife, nurse and mother. One of the oldest celebrations was the Anthesteria, also know as the first ancient Greek festival of flowers.
Nowadays the wreath making process is supposed to bring people closer to nature, especially in this day and age where people are consumed by their busy lives, problems or economic issues.
May in East Crete is a wonderful time of the year. This is when many flights to Crete commence or increase their flight schedules to bring more and more tourist to the island. Weather at the start of May is normally sunny and getting much better and warmer as the month goes by and the temperatures are rising to Celsius twenties and more. Flowers are beginning to blossom fully and you can see the beautiful pinks, purples and whites of the Oleander lining the roads of Crete.
It is also a wonderful time to walk many of the beautiful Gorges in East Crete like the Richtis or the Gorge of the Death. If you are visiting Crete in May there is plenty to do and it isn’t too hot or too busy to really enjoy many of the attractions and things to do in the East of Crete, see our summary of activities in the East of Crete on our home page.