4 Reasons to Celebrate May Day
4 Reasons to Celebrate May Day
Designed by Tia Davis
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Although it was once primarily a pagan holiday celebrating Spring and fertility, May Day has been adapted to Christian holidays and many countries have also adapted May Day into community or national holidays; such as Walpurgis in Finland and Sweden and Law Day in the U.S.
Why celebrate May Day?
Rekindle traditions. Get in touch with your roots and ancestry. Many of us can trace our ancestry and family tree back to European countries such as England, Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Germany, France, Sweden and Denmark to name a few. In those countries, the native lands of our ancestors, May Day is still a highly anticipated and celebrated event. A nice way to honor your family tree is to adopt some of the holidays your ancestors would have celebrated.
Do a little research. Talk with grandparents or great-grandparents and find out how they would have celebrated May Day or just the seasonal change of Spring. Or, if your grandparents have passed on, dig a little deeper and discover what country or region they hailed from and utilize some of the native people’s traditions. Create new ways to celebrate old traditions. Add your own unique interpretation to earlier practices and make May Day your own.
Celebrate Spring. With Spring come activities such as gardening, planting, sewing, cleaning, pruning, and planning. Spring is also a time of fertility, flowers, new growth (physical and spiritual) and sunshine! Many countries and cultures all over the world have unique names for honoring Spring and distinctive practices for welcoming the season change. Some examples include: Lei Day in Hawaii, Walpurgis Night in Finland, Maibaum in Germany, Beltaine in Ireland, and Roodmas in England. A fun and energizing game of “Bringing in the May” or “going a-maying” is still observed in several British countries and cultures. Take a hint from other cultures and celebrate Spring! Honor mother nature and the natural cycle of birth and renewal by taking a little time to “stop and smell the roses!”
It’s great excuse for a party. Want to host a garden party? May Day is the perfect reason to gather friends and family together for a feast, dancing, fun and games, and outdoor activities. Plan a May Day get-together with spring eats and treats, or do it potluck style with a theme like “Spring Fling” or “Garden Gathering.” Get creative. Find a way to erect and decorate a maypole and a dance. Play croquet, bad mitten, volley ball, bocce ball and other lawn games. Maybe a garden party is too much for you. Keep it simple then. Invite a few friends over and share some of the unique stories of May Day from around the world over coffee and cookies.
It’s a great excuse to give. Tradition has it that the giver of a May Day basket would leave the basket at someone’s doorstep, ring the bell, and then run away. The receiver of the basket would then chase after the giver. If the giver was caught, a kiss was expected and exchanged. This tradition would be fun to adapt into a party game (perhaps without the kiss) or activity for a preschool or elementary class. Give May Day baskets (small baskets filled with flowers and small treats) and homemade Spring gifts to a few friends or family members.
Give anonymously. Give a hand-picked bouquet of flowers to someone special. Two popular flowers to give on May Day include Lily of the Valley or dog rose flowers meant as good luck charms. Too many times we pass up opportunities to give for all sorts of different reasons. The secret to giving is: giving always blesses the giver more than the receiver. So use May Day as your excuse to give!