Saturday, April 28, 2012

May Day

No, May Day isn't just a cry for help. That's an anglicized spelling of the French m'aider, which means "help me."

But the first day in the month of May has been celebrated in many cultures for centuries. It's exactly half a year from November first when the night before, which we call Halloween, symbolized the start of the cold, dark time of year. By contrast, May Day symbolizes the coming of the warm, sunny half of the year.

Because of the change in weather the holiday has focused on flowers and fertility. Quite a few ancient cultures, including the Romans and Druids, had religious celebrations on that day but even without religious connotations May Day has been considered a pleasant occasion. When I was a kid we used to leave small baskets of flowers at neighbors' front doors.

But in 1886 because of demonstrations demanding an eight hour work day, May Day became associated with political controversy, and it was later celebrated by Communists in the Soviet Union, so people in the United States didn't observe the day as anything special.

But the first day of May is still a good time to think about the nice Spring weather (even if it hasn't arrived yet where you live) and the beauty of flowers and green leaves on trees.

I hope you have a happy May Day on Tuesday, May 1, 2012.


Susanne Drazic said...

Leaving baskets of flowers at neighbors front doors sounds like a wonderful thing to do. What a fun way to brighten someone's day.

Janet Ann Collins said...

Thanks, Susanne. Of course if the neighbor had allergies it might not have been such a good idea. Maybe that's one reason the custom stopped.

BarbaraB said...

I remember when I was in elementary school we had a May Day celebration with the May Pole. (another symbol of fertility).

Janet Ann Collins said...

That must have been fun. We didn't do it where I grew up.