We have reached a symbolic end as we flip the calendar from April to May. How many days have you been on lockdown now? For me, I have been at home for just under 8 weeks! Yet, today is our lucky day, because we have something beautiful to celebrate on May 1st. Have you heard of May Day, Dear Reader?
Depending on which part of the world you live in May Day has different symbolic meanings. May Day is only a celebration (of sorts) in some parts of North America and Europe. Originally, May Day was a medieval holiday celebrated by the Greeks and Romans for a period of a few days at the end of April and early May to commemorate spring. Traditionally, people would celebrate the holiday by gathering wild flowers, turning them into garlands, and participating in songs and dances. A centerpiece of the festivities is the Maypole which is a tall decorated pole from which colored ribbons hang down. In the merriest of ways, the pole is decorated when participants grab onto the ribbons and circle the pole. Another main event is the crowning of the May king and May queen, who may receive a floral garland.
Even though May Day is a light and uncomplicated holiday, it is not widely celebrated. One reason for this is because May 1st became International Workers’ Day in many socialist and communist countries. It remains a national public holiday in some countries as well as a popular day for protest. In the U.S., May Day never gained a strong footing due to the New Englanders’ Puritanical opposition to the pagan holiday. Yet, in parts of Europe and the United States, May Day persists.
Minneapolis, Minnesota is one of the few American cities that puts on a robust May Day celebration. The city hosts a parade with floats, masks, song, and dance (the celebration, of course, has been canceled in 2020 as a result of the pandemic). In Europe, one notable May Day celebration occurs annually in Munich, Germany. On this day, the local folklore group dresses in costume and puts on a show for all. Together, the townspeople decorate the maypole with ribbons and wreaths, and dances take place throughout the day and into the night. Oh, and, naturally, there is a lot of beer!
So, let’s celebrate May Day, Dear Reader! I don’t know anyone right now who wouldn’t benefit from a little cheer. A few ways to celebrate the holiday include:
- Making a flower crown
- Gifting a May basket (filled with sweet treats, delivered anonymously to friends)
- Plant some flowers
- Go on a nature walk
- Sing, Dance, and be merry!
I have been a May Day crusader since 2016. I believe that it is a beautiful holiday because it is about bringing goodness into your own life, the lives of others, and to the world. In essence, May Day is a celebration of life, the beauty and plentifulness of the earth, and the joyful anticipation of good things to come.
I wish you all a happy May Day, a happy spring, and many happy days to come.