Rachel Hintz
May 01, 2014 9:02 am

May 1st is May Day!

Why Celebrate?

Before I get started, can I just ask: How is it May already? Like, seriously, didn’t it just turn April? Didn’t spring just finally arrive? I’m still dating things “March” so clearly I am unprepared. I don’t know if I am alone in thinking this, but this could have possibly been the fastest April ever. Anyways… so it is May, the fifth month in the calendar year, and May starts off with this spring holiday called May Day.

You see, May Day has been around for a long time. The earliest celebrations came in pre-Christian times during the festival of Flora (the Roman goddess of flowers). Many of the pagan celebrations were abandoned or Christianized as time went on, and a more modernized version of May Day is still observed in Europe and America. Celebrations of recent years include the tradition of dancing the maypole dance, as well as the crowning of the Queen of the May. This May Queen rides in the front of the parade for May Day, and she wears a white gown which symbolizes purity. She is usually crowned in flowers and makes a speech before the dancing commences. The figure of the May Queen has been linked historically to a relic of tree worship, but on the surface level I think it is a pretty fun way to celebrate the beauty of spring and the anticipation of summer as the month of May has finally arrived! (Or in my case, WHOA, IT’S MAY ALREADY!)

I would be amiss not to mention that today is also International Workers’ Day, which is also known as May Day. It is a celebration of the international labor movement in more than 80 countries and has long been a day used for demonstrations by opposition groups (various socialist, communist, and anarchist groups). These demonstrations commemorate the Haymarket affair (a bombing that took place at a labor demonstration) in Chicago back in 1886.

Let’s circle back to something a little more cheerful and talk again about the traditional May Day holiday. Until the late 20th century, it was a popular custom to give “May baskets,” which were small gift baskets of sweets and flowers left on neighbors’ porches (usually anonymously). How fun is that?! Let’s bring this tradition back.

How to Celebrate

You heard me! Let’s bring back the gifting of “May baskets!” Make up some fun little baskets full of treats and flowers and surprise your friends or neighbors with a secret gift. It can be as creative as you want it to be. Maybe include a beautiful quote about the season of spring, or perhaps even a small gift like a watering can and some seeds! I think the idea of a “May basket” is a wonderful excuse to brighten someone’s day.

Quotes of the Day

“Isn’t it appropriate that the month of the tax begins with April Fool’s Day and ends with cries of “May Day!?” – Anonymous

“As full of spirit as the month of May, and as gorgeous as the sun in Midsummer.” – William Shakespeare

“The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.” – Edwin Way Teale

Featured image via ShutterStock

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