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Celebrate May Day

April 30, 2013
Jane Whitmore , Emmetsburg News

Tomorrow begins the month of May. We welcomed April, but got fooled from the get-go as Spring turned into Winter then back to Spring. Are we now facing a giant leap into Summer?

May 1 is "May Day." I remember picking purple and white violets in the yard and taking them to my favorite teacher with a May basket. Today, I have tiny blue scilla, and a couple of purple crocus, blooming among the emerging tulips and daffodils. A couple of the daffodils are bursting at the seams, ready to bloom. And the rabbits are having a smorgasbord in the tulip bed.

Students at Emmetsburg West Elementary School for many years have organized a May Basket Factory. The young students learn mass production, finance and marketing. An innovative introduction to on-the-job training.

Back in the day when we read about May Day, the accompanying pictures showed the May Queen and girls in frilly dresses dancing around the May Pole. Wouldn't that be fun to see today! The May Queen and May Pole are traditional British May Day rites. Throughout the centuries, May Day has been a celebration of springtime.

May Day Around the World

On May Day the Romanians celebrate the "arminden," the beginning of summer, symbolically tied with the protection of the crops and animals.

In Ireland, May day has been celebrated since pagan times. Traditionally, bonfires were lit to mark the coming of summer and to banish the long nights of winter.

France: On May 1, 1561, King Charles IX of France received a lily of the valley as a lucky charm. He decided to offer a lily of the valley each year to the ladies of the court. At the beginning of the 20th century, it became custom to give a sprig of lily of the valley, a symbol of springtime, on May 1.

Germany: In rural regions of Germany, especially the Harz Mountains, Walpurgisnacht celebrations of pagan origin are traditionally held on the night before May Day, including bonfires and the wrapping of a Maibaum (maypole). Young people use this opportunity to party, while the day itself is used by many families to get some fresh air.

Finland: This is a public holiday that is the only carnival-style street festivity in the country. People young and old, particularly students, party outside, picnic and wear caps or other decorative clothing.

Sweden: The more traditional festivities have moved to the day before, Walpurgis night, known in some locales as simply "Last of April."?The first of May is instead celebrated as International Workers' Day.

Canada: Celebrations often take place not on May 1, but during the Victoria Day long weekend later in the month and when the weather is likely to be better.

United States: 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 they catch the person, a kiss is exchanged.

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "fifth of May")?is a celebration held on May 5. It is celebrated in the United States and regionally in Mexico. It originated with Mexican-American communities in the American West as a way to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War, and today the date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.

Celebrate in May

We used to get a book called Chase's Calendar of Annual Events. I have since seen it online called simply Chase's Calendar of Events. They record monthly, weekly and daily observances, including:

American Wetlands Month

Community Living Month

Get Caught Reading Month

Motorcycle Safety Month

National Physical Fitness &?Sports Month

Food always seem to get recognition. May is:?National Bar-B-Que Month, National Egg Month and National Hamburger Month.

May is also Gifts from the Garden Month. That teams up well with Asparagus Month, Carrots &?Cauliflower, Grapefruit and Kiwi Month, National Sweet Vidalia Onions Month, National Vinegar Month, Potatoes and Limes Month, Salad Month and Strawberry Month.

May has something for everyone to enjoy.



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