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Welcome springtime in Athens

Temperature is rising, flowers are blooming, days become longer and brighter, and we all feel more refreshed. All hail, it is spring, one of Greeks’ favorite seasons (after summer).  Spring is the time for revitalization and rebirth, and Greeks have a special fondness for the season that includes lovely weather and of course, the Easter holiday.

 

Even in Greek mythology, there is a beautiful legend concerning the change of seasons, and especially winter turning to spring.  It is the story of Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, goddess of agriculture and harvest.  Hades, the god of the underworld, fell in love with fair Persephone and kidnapped her. Demeter, out of immense grief for the unexplained loss of her daughter ceased all fertility upon the earth. Flowers and crops withered; nothing germinated, nothing grew.  When Demeter finally found out who the kidnapper of Persephone was, she descended to the underworld to reclaim her from Hades.  Mother and kidnapper finally agreed to an arrangement that Persephone would stay four months with Hades and the remaining eight months with her mother.  As you may have guessed already, the four months that Demeter had to sadly part with her beloved daughter, the earth would freeze under cold winter, whereas the remaining eight months would burst with fertile lands and excellent weather, since mother and daughter would reunite.

 

Back in modern Athens, springtime is full of much-expected events and celebrations, such as Clean Monday, when we rush outdoors and fly kites, the recent National Independence Day on March 25, when we traditionally watch impressive parades and eat cod with garlic sauce, May 1st, the ultimate celebration of spring called Protomaya, which coincides with Labor Day, and of course, Easter’s Holy Week, filled with various religious and cultural activities, till the symbolic resurrection of Christ inspiring to all Christian Orthodox Greeks sentiments of hope and joy.  The pandemic has muted many events, but not all, and as vaccinations progress, and the weather improves, we become more optimistic.  In normal circumstances, the crowds of people visiting the capital are much smaller in spring, while the weather is mild, so you do not have to worry about the heat.  You can stroll around the city all day long, visiting historical sites, museums, and galleries, or catch the glorious bougainvillea blooming excessively over buildings in Plaka, Athens’ most beautiful neighborhood, or even visit nearby beaches for those who do not mind somewhat cooler waters than in summer.

 

Last but not least, as daylight lasts longer, you can always visit the hills around Athens and capture magnificent sunsets and sunrises.  It is a great way to start or end your city explorations.  If you are fond of bicycles, or even scooters, rent one and enjoy various stopovers for amazing pictures and plenty of daydreaming.  The National Garden in the city center is always a great idea; acres and acres of magnificent flowers from all over the world in full bloom, trees, duck ponds, and winding trails to explore.  What’s more to say?  Spring is calling and you better answer!

By Sophia Dritsa

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