Tuesday, May 1, 2018

May Day: A Forgotten Spring Tradition

"Such a twanging of bells and rapping of knockers; such a scampering of feet in the dark; such droll collisions as boys came racing round corners, or girls ran into one another's arms as they crept up and down steps on the sly; such laughing, whistling, flying about of flowers and friendly feeling—it was almost a pity that May-day did not come oftener." - Louisa May Alcott, Author 1880. 


It's a holiday that's not practiced as much as we use to - or at least not as much as when I was a little girl. In grade school on May 1 we would make woven baskets out of colorful construction paper or cones out of paper doilies. We would fill the sweet little containers with flowers.  I would often "surprise" my mother with a knock on the front door, hang the flowers on the door knob, and then run away. Bless her. She would play along and when I would nonchalantly walk in the back door from school, she would act all surprised showing me what she found at the front door. 


May Day flower containers can be elaborate or as simple as a paper cup, a tin can, or an old jar wrapped in colored tissue. It's the sentiment and surprise that counts. 


Our grade school music teacher would fashion up a Maypole for us using a tether ball pole and decorate it with colorful streamers of crepe paper. We would dance weaving the colorful streamers around the pole. 


The traditions of May Day started drooping like the tulips left in a basket five days later. The simple and rather spontaneous act of kindness leaving of May baskets on the door waned... Could it have been there were no expensive presents exchanged to motivate the giver/receiver? People are too busy? Or is it due to May Day has the undercurrents of a "pagan holiday" which may have slowed down this time old tradition? However if that's the reason, then we need some history lessons on the Easter egg, yule log, wreath and evergreen boughs and how these items that represent nature are now used in modern society and often religious celebrations. 


Happy May Day! Let's reawaken this old tradition! 



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