A triple holiday in Greece: Easter, Sveti Georgi, May Day
By Sofia, Apr 26 2019 06:15PM
This year, the end of April marks a triple holiday in Greece.
First is the most important religious and cultural event in Greece, Easter (Πάσχα), the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ - the foundation of the Christian faith. In Greece this year, Easter Sunday is the 28th April.
On Easter Monday, 29th April, we celebrate St George's day. Saint George (Άγιος Γεώργιος) was born in AD 280 to a Christian family in Cappadocia during the rule of Emperor Diocletian. As an adult, he served in the Roman army, but was executed in AD 303 for standing against the persecution of Christians.
In sainthood, he is reported to have performed many miracles, the greatest being the slaying of a dragon. He is often portrayed astride a white horse slaying the dragon and is, of course, the adopted patron saint of England. He happens to be also the patron saint of Bapchor, my birth place in the Macedonia of northern Greece.
The byzantine style church in what used to be the village settlement is named Sveti Georgi, to honour the saint. Usually, Saint George's day is celebrated on 23 April. However, when 23rd April falls before Easter, as it does this year in Greece, Easter takes precedence and St George's day is held on Easter Monday in Catholic and Orthodox communities.
On May 1st, May Day, we celebrate both the coming of spring and the recognition of workers' rights. Its origins go back to pagan festivals and the beginning of the growing season, but since the riots in Chicago Haymarket on 1st May 1886 demanding an 8-hour working day - and later the Russian Revolution on 1st May 1917 - it also became adopted as a symbol of workers' rights in many countries.
Ironically, it is rarely recognised in the United States of America where it has generally been replaced by Labor Day on the first Monday of September to disassociate it from its leftist direction. To be precise, this day in Greece is not a holiday, but a 'general strike' in support of the disadvantaged, which bears a kind of similarity to St. George sticking up for the Christians!