An ancient day of partying, pleasure

May Day – May 1

Intricate movements create fun challenges on a maypole.

http://vieki.blogspot.com/2011/10/

Intricate movements create fun challenges on a maypole.

Marianne Barredo, Staff writer

Coinciding with other holidays, this first day of May is an ancient festival celebrated in the name of spring—May Day!

A tradition rich with history and culture, May Day sprang forth from pagan origin handed down from the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, according to wilderutopia.com. It marks the return of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and was later carried on to many European cultures like the Celtic festival of Beltane and the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night.

Almanac.com says that “as with many early holidays, May Day was rooted in agriculture. Springtime celebrations filled with dance and song hailed the sown fields starting to sprout.” Plenty of activities were done in celebration, like tending to the livestock to graze pasture, lighting special bonfires, and lots of decorating with the blossoms of May flowers.

Aside from the agricultural aspect, May Day has other famous traditions which highlight basket-making, dancing, and even crowning within the holiday. According to nationaldaycalendar.com, “one of the more popular rituals was harvesting flowers and giving them to neighbors and strangers in cone-shaped baskets.” May baskets were popularized during the 19th and 20th centuries, and these baskets often held candies and other treats along with the flowers as a gift.

Another popular tradition was the maypole which can be traced back to medieval times. The maypole dance called for merriment and fun, as villagers would gather around the tall wooden pole to hold the colorful streamers in high spirits, crowning a “May Queen” for the day’s rituals and festivities.

May Day observes the exuberance that comes with the spring season, from its many delightful rites of music and dancing to colorful flower and ribbon decorations. So on May 1, feel free to make a flower crown, a May basket, or just dance around for the fun of it to celebrate this holiday.

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