Posted by terrepruitt on April 30, 2015
In the yoga class I taught earlier this week I mentioned that we were headed into May. One of my students said we don’t really celebrate May Day any longer. I thought they still did in the United Kingdom, but I don’t ever remember it being celebrate here. She went onto say that when she was young they made May Day flower baskets out of paper and would fill them with flowers. Then they would walk around the neighborhood placing flowers on people door knobs. I asked her where that was and she said someone in the Mid-west. I said that I didn’t think that was a California thing, but then another student mentioned that her 90 year old (or 80 year old) friend had said she did it when she was young and in California. I was intrigued. I had never heard of this flower tradition. My main research site is Wiki. According to Wiki the celebrations for May Day are primarily in Europe, the first line on the page is “May Day on May 1 is an ancient Northern Hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday.”
There were and are holidays and festivals and parades in Europe. Something I don’t ever remember seeing here. I think “ancient” is an accurate description, in regards to the US, anyway. Seems in the more modern times the acknowledgement of May turned more towards labor and/or politics. With Great Britain’s celebrations – at one point – coinciding with the last day of planting for the small towns and villages the farm workers would get the day off. Wiki further cites many celebrations of May Day still being held. Finland uses the day as an excuse to have carnival like festivities. France celebrates May 1st by giving ladies flowers. Lilies of the Valley.
In Germany there seems to be a tradition of Maypoles and flowers. Not certain this tradition is still done today, but Maypoles with ribbons were placed in the lady’s yard by a love interest whereas ladies place “roses or rice in the form of a heart at the house of their beloved one”. Roses or rice? And May Day is a public holiday.
In Ireland they have a feast and in Bulgaria they celebrate Irminden by performing rituals to protect people from the snakes and lizards associated with the holiday. Romania has what they call the arminden. Their celebration might lend more to doing “rites and habits” they believe might protect farm animals and crops. The first day of May in Sweden is “celebrated as International Workers’ Day.”
Some places in Canada celebrate May Day but it sounds more like parades and celebrations for International Workers’ Day.
In some parts of the United States, May Baskets are made. These are small baskets usually filled with flowers or treats and left at someone’s doorstep. The giver rings the bell and runs away. The person receiving the basket tries to catch the fleeing giver; if caught, a kiss is exchanged.
But in modern day the day has changed to a more political day. Since 2006 it has been a day of protests. And I see from a Google Search that there are many planned for this May Day (2015).
When I was young I had heard the expression about dancing around the Maypole, but I have never heard of an actual May Day celebration. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if the days of giving flowers came back around?
Do you celebrate May Day? Do you have plans for May Day? Have you EVER celebrated May Day?