May Day – I remember as a child making paper baskets, filling them with wild flowers, dandelions mostly, hanging them from the doorknobs of the neighbors houses, ringing the bell and running away giggling. It was fun, and the neighbors seemed to enjoy it. One thing I never stopped to do though, was find out the origins of this day, just took for granted that it was celebrated because spring was in the air and everyone was happy about it. Turns out that this day has a rich history, with roots deep in pagan ritual, which is probably why we never celebrated it in church growing up. It is interesting though, so I figured I would bring it to you. The first of May is celebrated around the world. It has many meanings – in many countries it is a celebration of spring, and the coming of summer (which is where I have always been with it), and the focus is on spring flowers. To communist and socialist countries, it is a celebration for the workers. In many countries it is celebrated as part one of a three day holiday. It is not a national holiday in the United States, except in Hawaii, where it is known as “Lei Day”. The origins of May Day date back to the days before the birth of Christ, and like I said before, as in many ancient festivals, it has a Pagan connection. For the Druids of the British Isles, May 1st was the 2nd most important holiday of the year, because it was when the festival of Beltane was held. It was thought that the day divides the year in half. The other half was to be ended with the Samhain on November 1st. In those days the May Day custom was the setting of new fire. It was one of those ancient New Year rites performed throughout the world. The fire itself was thought to lend life to the springtime sun. Cattle were driven through it to purify them (must have been some very tolerant cows!), and men and their sweethearts passed through the smoke for seeing good luck. Then the Romans came to occupy the British Isles. The beginning of May was a very popular feast time for the Romans, and devoted primarily to the worship of Flora, the goddess of flowers. It was in her honor that a five day celebration, called the Floralia, was held. The festival would start on April 28th and end on May 2nd. The rituals of this festival were brought to the British Isles and gradually they were added to those of the Beltane. Many of today’s customs on the May Day have a similarity to those combined traditions. The observance of May Day was discouraged during the time of the Puritans, though it was revived when the Puritans lost power in England, it didn’t have the same force as it did before. Over time it began to be thought of as more a day of joy and fun for the kids, instead of a day of observing the ancient fertility rites.
So what about the tradition of the Maypole and the greenery? Well, by the Middle Ages every English village had a Maypole. The bringing in of the Maypole from the woods was a great occasion and was done with a lot of rejoicing and a big party. The Maypoles were of all sizes. One village with compete with another to show who could produce the tallest Maypole. Maypoles were usually set up for the day in small towns, but in London and the larger towns they were set up permanently. The tradition was stopped by the Puritan Long Parliament in 1644, but with the return of the Stuarts, the Maypole reappeared and the festivities of May Day were again enjoyed. The Reformation attempted to do away with practices that were obviously of pagan nature, but the Maypole was one that survived by changing its name. Instead of the Maypole, it came to be known as the Tree of Liberty, and was the symbol of the French Revolution. In spite of the new name, the peasants treated the tree in the traditional spirit and would dance around it as their forefathers had always done. Why the tree though? Well, trees have always been linked to the days of ancient New Year rites. They have always been the symbol of vitality and fertility of nature and were often used in the spring festivals. The tree, or Maypole, would be cut down, and all of the branches taken off except the top few. Then it was wrapped with violets like the figure of Attis, the ancient Roman god. At sunrise, they used to take it back to their villages by blowing horns and flutes. In America, since the Puritans frowned on May Day, it has never been celebrated with the enthusiasm as it was in Great Britain. In spite of the scorn of the Puritans, the tradition of celebrating May Day by dancing and singing around a maypole, tied with colorful streamers or ribbons, survived as part of the English tradition. Kids celebrate the day by moving back and forth around the pole with the streamers, choosing the May queen and hanging May baskets onto the doorknobs of neighbors. And now we know! Though I would never celebrate a pagan holiday for the reasons celebrated by people of those beliefs, I do think that celebrating spring is a wonderful thing and that the elderly and the shut-ins do enjoy baskets of flowers left on their doorsteps, appreciating being remembered.
Amtrak Day – When trains first were invented and put into service they opened up an entirely new, and efficient way for people to move from one place to another. For many years it was the primary method of moving products and people, but over the years, through wars, government regulations, taxes, etc, the use of train service declined to nearly a standstill as far as passenger use. On May 1st, 1971 Amtrak began operations, rejuvenating passenger train travel again. There were pages of detail, but I figured the basics would do for now. I’ve never been on a train, but I really want to some day. I hope that train service is still going for a very long time so I can try it for myself! As for my own family history, my Great-Grandfather worked the railroad, helping to put down the railroad ties and rails that the trains would travel on. He met my Great-Grandmother because of his job actually. You see Great Grandma’s parents operated a traveling tent saloon that followed the progress of the rail system. My Great Grandma would serve the tables, and even perform table dances (nothing more – after all she did have morals and was only 13). Great Grandpa saw her and fell instantly in love. Her parents gave permission for them to marry, and she left a life she hated to become wife and mother to 17 children. She also became INCREDIBLY strict and very religious to make up for what she considered to be a shameful history. As a side note, my Great Grandfather suffered a work related injury during his time with the rail system. He was helping to hammer in the big spikes to the ties, and one flew up and embedded itself in his head, leaving a deep hole/indentation. I don’t know the long term effects he may have suffered, as I never knew him. He passed away not long after I was born, though I am blessed to have had at least one picture taken of us together when I was very tiny.
Batman Day – I admit I have not been an avid Batman fan my whole life, as I’m sure some people are, but he is still pretty big news since he has lasted so long in media and movies. The character of Batman first appeared in Detectives Comics #27 in May of 1939. May 1st was designated as a day to celebrate this timeless character. I did enjoy the movies, but thought the TV series was silly. I was more of a princess and fairy tales girl, rather than a super hero girl. But there’s something for everyone!
Keep Kids Alive! Drive 25 Day – This organization is set up to bring awareness to people across the country to watch their speeds while driving in residential neighborhoods. So many children are riding their bikes, walking or playing in yards near streets, and speeding cars through these areas cause so many unnecessary accidents and deaths of kids who dart out to catch a ball, fall off of their bikes, etc. The difference between 25 mph and even 30 mph often means the difference between life and death. Watch your speed in those areas – saving the life of a child, and not suffering the mental and emotional anguish of being the person to end that life – is more than worth the few extra seconds you might make speeding. Slow down. It’s important!
Law Day – On May 1st, 1957, Charles Rhyne, President of the American Bar Association, thought that a special day for celebrating the US legal system was a good idea. It became his vision. On February 3, 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower established Law Day by issuing a proclamation. Since then every President has issued an annual Law Day proclamation. On May 1, 1961 it was designated by joint resolution of Congress to be the official date fore celebration Law day.
Loyalty Day – this is the day to express and reaffirm our loyalty to our country. In proclaiming this day, President George W. Bush (I MISS GEORGE!), wrote, “We express allegiance to our Nation and its founding ideals, we resolve to ensure that the blessings of liberty endure and extend for generations to come.” This day did not start with George Bush’ proclamation though. It actually dates back to the 1920’s. We should take a moment also to appreciate the members of our armed forces, past and present, who are displaying, or have displayed, the ultimate in loyalty and service to protect our freedoms, and liberty and our way of life.
School Principals Day – Today is the day to honor all school principals at elementary, middle and high school levels. This is a tough job – dealing with all of the kids, the teachers, the parents, the administrators, the board, the public . . .the list goes on. I honestly wouldn’t envy their jobs, very stressful! However, they are people and as such there are good ones, there are bad ones, and when I was in school I had both kinds, and when my kids were in school, THEY had both kinds. Either way, its a big job and deserves to be acknowledged. If you see your kids principal today, say hi and thank you. Maybe it’ll give them the boost they need to keep on going for another day.
Silver Star Day – This is such a well deserved and wonderful celebration! Thanks to the efforts of the Silver Star Families of American, Indiana and New Mexico have proclaimed this day to honor the nation’s wounded service members. It is their dream to have this some day be a nationwide event.” The American Legion is assisting in finding a representative in each state to support the observance of this day. The day of recognition is open to participation by other groups wishing to honor America’s wounded troops, as well. The Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group that attends military funerals to shield families from protesters, has indicated it would like to hold a rally to commemorate the day. Today celebrate and honor the sacrifice of those who were wounded, struck ill, or died in the Armed Forces. This day has special meaning for me since my son-in-law is a medically retired wounded in action soldier. He, and others like him, deserve all of the love and support of everyone in this nation. They give their all for us, and deserve nothing less in return.
Stepmother’s Day – We have Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day . . . it is time to have Stepmother’s Day. I hope there is also a Stepfather’s Day and if there isn’t, there needs to be. Stepmother’s fill a difficult role. They come into a child’s life not to replace their mother, but to be an additional support system and source of love for that child, and let’s face it. Stories, movies and fairy tales have given step-mom’s a really bad rap! They are always shown as evil, mean and manipulative! I’m sure there are a fair share of those in the world, but every role has its share of bad guys. For the most part though, step-mom’s need to be appreciated and given the acknowledgement that they are trying hard to be a positive influence in a child’s life, not to do anything against the biological mother in any way. To all stepmother’s, we appreciate you.
Mother Goose Day- This is a fairly recent celebration created in 1987 by Gloria T. Delamar at the time she published her book, Mother Goose, From Nursery to Literature. She started it as a day to appreciate nursery rhymes and stories. They are a favorite of children and their parents because so many are easy to remember. The term “Mother Goose” dates back to the 1650s. It referred to stories like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty. It never meant a specific person, since these stories and rhymes were written both long before and after the name came into being. Enjoy remembering a few of your favorites today – it’s always nice to take a walk down memory lane.
Delamar in tandem with the publication of her book, Mother Goose; From Nursery to Literature.
Save The Rhino – The rhinoceros has roamed the earth for over a million years, and has been hunted to near extinction. Save the Rhino Day encourages us to be aware of, and support efforts to save this wonderful animal from that fate. The Rhinoceros is a fascinating creature. It is native to Africa, and considered to be a leftover from the age of dinosaurs. Hunters on safaris killed the Rhino just for sport, and poachers hunted them for their horn. The horn has been used as medicine, and for making knife handles, carved statues, and other objects. Awareness of this issue has resulted in the numbers of Rhinos to rebound somewhat though, which is a great thing! Did you know that the horn of the Rhino is composed of the same material as your fingernail? Visit the Rhinos at a zoo. Watch a show about them. You can donate to groups working towards preserving the Rhino, or if you can afford it, go on a picture taking safari. It would be fun!
Food Celebration of the Day –
- S’more Parfaits
- Chocolate Pudding Cream Cheese Parfaits
- Chocolate Strawberry Cookie Parfaits
- Chocolate Hazelnut Parfaits
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Parfaits
- Chocolate Banana Parfaits
Well, here we are, off to a busy start to the month, but I know that I have learned a lot today, and have some idea now of how to spend my day! I hope the same for you. God Bless You and I’ll see you tomorrow!