Celebrating the Merry Month of May

Spring time is here – or so the calendar tells us. As April’s showers give way to the buds and bright colors of May, there are a couple of fun holidays to celebrate.

MAY DAY
May Day is celebrated on May 1st. It originated long ago when ancient Europeans celebrated this season of new birth. Unfortunately, it did not migrate across the ocean because the puritans declared it to be too pagan to include in the fledgling America’s holidays. However, there are a few fun ways to still celebrate it today.

One such way to celebrate would be to dance around a May Pole. Usually this is done to celebrate the season, but also to celebrate fertility for crops, animals, and humans. So, perhaps the May Day Basket would be a more universal way to enjoy the holiday.

Giving a May Day Basket meant that people would leave bulging baskets of flowers on the doorsteps of neighbors, friends, and family. Similar to the Easter Basket, these May Day Baskets could also include candy and other goodies. Sometimes giving a May Day Basket was a way for someone to express romantic interest. The baskets are often left on the front door or stoop, brightening up the neighborhood and heralding the coming of Spring.

MAY DAY part II
The ancient May Day celebration shares the holiday with another May Day. This later version of May Day began in America and has to do with working conditions. May Day could also be called International Worker’s Day. On May 1, 1886, thousands of workers walked off their jobs to protest their working conditions, such as the 10-18 hour work days.

Now, International Workers’ Day has more ties to socialist organizations. Because of this, it is celebrated around the world, but not in America, even though our fight for reasonable working conditions, 8-hour work days, and labor unions, is what began the holiday in the first place.

CINCO de MAYO
Literally, May the 5th in Spanish, Cinco de Mayo is a day to celebrate Mexican culture. The day itself is not a particularly special one and does not represent Mexican independence. Rather, it is a remembrance of the Mexicans winning of a battle against the French in 1862. Even today, it is not a holiday in Mexico and is generally only celebrated in the area where the battled occurred.

However, in America, Cinco de Mayo is an opportunity for us to celebrate those of Mexican heritage. It is a day filled with mariachi bands, colorful parades, and awesome food. Some of the largest parades happen in Chicago, L.A., and Houston. It is also a chance for those of non-Mexican background to learn a bit more about our neighbors.
So, begin this next month by delivering a May Day basket while thanking the protesters of the 1800s for better working conditions. You could even watch Star Wars on May 4th (May the Fourth… it’ll come to you…). And on the 5th, spend some time learning more about Mexican history and culture. What better way to┬ástart out the Merry Month of May than with such festive, multi-cultural celebrations!

 


The above information was gathered from the following websites:
http://www.britannica.com/topic/May-Day-European-seasonal-holiday
http://www.britannica.com/art/Maypole-dance
http://www.npr.org/sections/npr-history-dept/2015/04/30/402817821/a-forgotten-tradition-may-basket-day
http://www.britannica.com/topic/May-Day-international-observance
http://www.iww.org/history/library/misc/origins_of_mayday
http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/cinco-de-mayo
http://www.britannica.com/topic/Cinco-de-Mayo
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/05/05/cinco-de-mayo-explained/26916669/

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