Saturday, April 30, 2011

May Day

I'm not referring to what an air force pilot might say if he was in danger (as a customer at my work thought the other day). I'm actually referring to May 1st, which is this coming Sunday.

When I was young, I would run to a neighbor's house (I usually only did it with two or three neighbors on my block) on the first Sunday of May. I would ring the doorbell, lay down a bunch of flowers, and hide. I would usually make it around the corner and hide behind a Rhododendron bush, waiting for the neighbor to open her door. I wasn't very good at the hiding part; I wanted to see the person's reaction right away, so I would try to sneak closer and listen for any particular sounds of pleasure.

According to Wikipedia, May Day originated this way:
The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the festival of Flora, the Roman Goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane. Many pagan celebrations were abandoned or Christianized during the process of conversion in Europe. A more secular version of May Day continues to be observed in Europe and America. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the Maypole and crowning of the Queen of the May. Various Neopagan groups celebrate reconstructed (to varying degrees) versions of these customs on May the 1st. The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of Spring, May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer. In the Roman Catholic tradition, May is observed as Mary's month, and in these circles May Day is usually a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this connection, in works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary's head will often be adorned with flowers in a May crowning. Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of "May baskets," small baskets of sweets and/or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbours' doorsteps. 

And in America, May Day started like this:
"May Day was also celebrated by some early European settlers of the American continent. In some parts of the U.S., May Baskets are made. These baskets are small and usually filled with flowers or treats and left at someone's doorstep. The basket giver would ring the bell and run away. The person receiving the basket would try to catch the fleeing giver. If they caught the person, a kiss was to be exchanged."

Now, I never had to kiss my neighbors, but I may have been forced into an obligatory hug or two. In my mind, May Day has always been synonymous with true spring: the weather has traditionally been quite decent on that day, and it also is my half-birthday, which I love to celebrate with glee in the sun.

Yesterday, as I was walking in my neighborhood, I saw a group of young children and some adults, pushing/pulling a wagon with baskets of flowers. They saw me across the street and yelled, "Happy May Day!" I couldn't keep the smile off my face as I waved back.

Happy May Day, all!

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