May Day is coming up. Do you remember it as a kid? Did your family leave May baskets on other's doorsteps? Let's talk about this holday, it's history and folklore and I'll share some fun ideas for your family to celebrate it!
What is May Day
May day is about halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice. It's history is rooted in astrology and agriculture. Back in the day, it was celebrated with song ad dance celebraitng the sprouting fields, house doors and livestock were decorated with flowers and special bonfires were lit.
Later, the celebrations became the gathering of wildflowers (Bringing in the May), decorating and dancing around a May Tree or May Pole, and gatherings to celebrate the beginning fo the growing season. These celebrations originally may have been intended to ensure fertility for crops and, by extension, for livestock and humans, but in most cases this significance was gradually lost, so that the practices survived largely as popular festivities.
Originally, the Maypole was a living tree brought in from the woods with much merrymaking. Ancient Celts danced around it and prayed for good crops and fertility while younger people had chance to be paired up through courtship by sundown if they wanted. If successful enough within 6 weeks of June's Midsummer Day ceremony, couples would get married there as this is how “June Wedding” became tradition
In ancient times, towns competed to see who had the best Maypole. The pole was a symbol of fertility and represented life in springtime. Over time, this tradition incorporated dance performances as well as plays which were written by famous authors like William Shakespeare during their heyday event called “The Renaissance”. They crowned a “May Queen” for that day's festivities!
Puritans considered the celebration to be licentious and pagan so they forbade its observance; as such, it never became an influential holiday that Americans would celebrate like those with similar traditions have done all throughout Europe.
The Maypole dance is a rite that has been performed by college students for over 100 years. Celebrations often feature class plays, Scottish dancing, and other cultural displays like singing or medieval festival style performances. The 1960s saw the start of a decline in interest; but today it's still celebrated mainly at schools with an emphasis on having fun!
The May Basket
There's an old tradition where you leave a basket of flowers and sweets on someone’s doorstep, usually anonymously. The custom is to knock on the door, yell “May baskets!” then run away if they catch up with you for a kiss. We're not sure what started this fun game but it was popular in 19th century Europe (especially France) and probably spread from there through the 20th century into America as well
Louisa May Alcott wrote about the beloved tradition of May Basket Day in her book, Little Women. In 1926 some bold schoolchildren hung a handmade basket on the White House door for First Lady Grace Coolidge – and it's still practiced around America today! To make your own traditional may basket all you need is an old piece of paper or plate, cut to size with holes punched out at each end (to resemble handles). Then simply fill up with wildflowers like honeysuckle blossoms from early spring that grow along fences; when they're gone switch over to tulips as summer approaches until winter sets in again.
10 WAYS TO CELEBRATE MAY DAY
May Day is a great holiday to celebrate the return of spring and new beginnings. Here are some wonderful May Day traditions that you can do in celebration!
- Using morning dew as a beauty treatment is one of many superstitions people have associated with May Day. This may seem like an odd idea, but the benefits are clear: it will help beautify your skin and bring good luck! If you're not up for walking outside in the chilly air to get some on this early morning, try sprinkling some snow or water droplets from inside through open windows instead.
- On May 1st people in Britain welcome Spring by “Bringing In The May” or gathering cuttings of flowering trees for their homes. Bring branches of Forsythia, Magnolia, Redbud and Lilac into your home today.
- Are you looking for a way to show your love? Why not help the kiddos make mom or dad a May day basket this year. It’s easy, and will give them something they can enjoy all season long.
- The locals in Hawaii call May 1 “Lei Day,” and give each other handmade leis as a symbol of greeting, farewell, affection, celebration or honor. Make one for yourself to show your love!
- The first day of May is the perfect time to go barefoot in wet grass. What better way to connect with nature on this special occasion?
- In parts of Ireland, people would make a May bush to celebrate the coming summer. You don’t need to go out and buy any supplies! You can create your own with just ribbons and flowers from around the house—or even some that grow outside in gardens or nature!
- Interested in beekeeping? May 1 is traditionally the day when beekeepers move their bees. You can find out more about it with Beekeeping for Beginners, or by contacting local experts for help!
- The fishermen have a celebratory mood in anticipation of May Day. They are said to catch the most fish that day, so we should make sure this is one of our best fishing days!
- Planting turnips is a tradition on this day. If you would like to find out when your area's planting dates are, check this Planting Calendar for more information!
- The Kentucky Derby starts off the month of May (the first Saturday of the month).
May Day! May Day!
Not to be confused with the term ‘Mayday!', which comes from the French phrase M’aidez!,. “Mayday” is a distress call that should be used in emergency situations. If you hear “Mayday!” three times, it means there's an urgent need for help and if you're not at risk of dying then use the signal phrase: “Pan-pan!.”
“May Day, May Day! May 1st is the day when we celebrate all things green and glorious. It's a time to rejoice in Nature's exuberance and revel while those seedlings look for that Sun they never seem to find on their own. This festival of life has been enjoyed by people since pagan times – even serious-minded folks can put work aside to enjoy these festivities.”
Do you celebrate May Day? Share your traditions in the comments below.