Sunday, May 3, 2009

May Day......

I have celebrated May Day, since I was a child. I don't know why my Mother was so inherently English, yes our background was English on both sides, but my Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother were all born in the States. But they raised us so traditionally British. IE: May Day......Let's Learn a little History Together!! Did you ever knock on someone’s door, hang a basket on the handle and yell, “Happy May Day” as you ran away ? The old traditions of the first day of May have become obscured with time and modern day. What happened to this holiday called May Day? Does anyone celebrate it anymore? Revive the old spring tradition with new twists on old ways. Learn how to celebrate May Day. Please keep the old Traditions alive with your Grandkids!! May Day History Many festivals and holidays, May Day began as an ancient pagan festival held to celebrate the return of warmth to the earth and the beginning of the growing season. The Romans brought with them their spring celebration of Floralia, a festival honoring flowers. As years passed, both Beltane and Floralia combined to create the merry festival of May Day. Throughout most of the world May 1,. The gentler, merry times of May Day often included a village Maypole. Young and old went to the woods searching for the tallest tree to turn into a Maypole. Flowers and greens adorned the pole with streamers attached to the top. Young people would grab a long streamer and dance under and over each other, intertwining and weaving the ribbon around the pole. The Maypole is a popular May Day symbol in Germany, Scandinavian countries, and the British Isles. An English country or folk dance, the Morris dance is thought to be a fertility or good luck dance. The dance was performed at holidays such as Easter, May Day and Plough Monday. The dancing often includes sticks, handkerchiefs, pipes and, in the past, swords. May Day Baskets The tradition of placing a basket filled with flowers and treats on the door handle of friends and neighbors came along later in the evolution of May Day celebrations. A quick-and-easy May Day basket begins with a piece of construction paper cut into a square. Cut a square of the exact same size from a sheet of pretty wrapping paper. Glue the wrapping paper to the construction paper. When the glue is dry, shape the two sheets of paper into a cone, making sure the bottom is closed. Either glue the overlapping edges or staple them together. Use a hole punch to create small holes on each side of the cone-shaped basket. Thread ribbon through each hole, knotting the ends to create a handle for the basket. Fill the basket with popcorn and individually wrapped candies. Pick flowers from the garden: tulips, daffodils, lilacs, narcissus, Johnny jump-ups or heart’s ease, violets, pansies, or whatever spring blossoms are growing. Place a damp paper towel around the stems and insert into a plastic baggie or a square of plastic wrap. Use a ribbon to tie the plastic encasement closed. If you have never celebrated May Day, it’s time to take a look at how to join in the festivities of the day. Many specialty garden shops throughout the country hold festivals to celebrate May Day, complete with a Maypole embellished with flowers and streamers, food, Morris dancers and a look into the past. May Day and fairies go hand in hand, so look for festivals and celebrations in your area. Throw a May Day Party Surprise family and friends with a May Day party. You may not want to put up a Maypole in the lawn, but decorate the home with loads of spring flowers.Serve traditional food for May, such as egg and dairy dishes. Quiches, omelets, egg casseroles, deviled eggs, egg salad tea sandwiches, and pickled eggs all serve up well. Oatmeal cakes were served on Beltane or May Day, so big oatmeal cookies along with creamy egg custards make delicious dessert offerings.A May Day celebration is not complete without the German traditional drink, May wine or Mai Bowle. The finalized wine is served from a punch bowl, with an ice ring and floating violets, Johnny jump-ups, or other edible spring flowers on top. You can also use half champagne and half Rhine wine for the recipe. Apple juice may take the place of the wine for a nonalcoholic drink. Drop a whole strawberry into each glass and pour the wine over it. Celebrating May Day means different things in different places. The Puritans frowned on Pagan festivals, so the United States never embraced the day with as much fervor as European countries steeped in Pagan traditions. Bring back the gentle side of May Day with baskets of flowers and goodies, frolicking on a warm spring day, and squeals of May Day. In closing, I think some of the old traditions are the BEST!!! When I was in England last year I learned that they still celebrate May Day, the May Pole is still popular (one is erected in each park for the celebrations!!) and it is a Holiday for Most people. My girls both 26 and 20 still celebrate May Day, I love when my 20 year old still runs to the Garden picks some of my favorite flowers and lays them on the Door Step, rings the bell and runs. Like she is still 5 again. Wouldn't we all love that feeling again???? Katie


KBeau said...

I remember May Day celebrations complete with a Maypole when I was in elementary school.

Thanks for the history lesson.

Charlie said...

I remember celebrating Mayday, and I loved celebrating it. I no longer have children to dress up or my girl's hair to braid with her flower tiara but I have the memories. I now know why every day last week I bought or sent flowers.

Thank you for a lovely post, I will read it again tomorrow when I am wide awake (it's 1:00am). But I will certainly have sweet dreams.

Suzie said...

Hi Kate!

I found the dome at the local thrift store for $4.99. Try at HomeGoods! My friend told me this morning that she saw a dome just like mine at HomeGoods for $19.99. It's cheaper than $29.99!! Good luck, Kate!