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May in the Greek culture

It’s May! Do you know what Greeks often say using the name of this month? 

«Ζήσε Μάη μου να φας τριφύλλι» (zíse mái mu na fas trifíli) is a phrase used for something that takes a lot of time to happen or it is doubtful if it will happen at all. This phrase indicates that one should try to survive until May when the nature blossoms and everything is easier to happen (easier to find food, to cultivate etc.). 

Where does this saying come from? 

The original meaning of the phrase was literal and it simply referred to animals. Because in the winter, due to the cold and poverty, people had nothing to feed their animals, they “urged” them to be patient, that is, to live until May, when the clovers would bloom and the animals could eat! 

However, this phrase can be continued. One may say «και τον Αύγουστο σταφύλι» (kie ton ávghusto stafíli), that is, to live until August and to be able to eat grapes then.  

May – different names 

It’s also worth pointing out that one can refer to “May” both as «Μάιος» (máios) and «Μάης» (máis), they are the same thing.  

Last but not least, according to Plutarch, the name of the month came from the name of the nymph «Μαία» (méa) who was the most beautiful of the Pleiades, the seven daughters of Atlas, and mother of the god Hermes to whom this month was dedicated. 

Nowadays, the word «μαία» (méa) refers to midwife! 

Our article about spring in the Greek language should also be interesting for you.