Today is the first of the month of May: May Day. The history of May Day as a phrase and as a celebration is quite interesting.
An ancient spring festival in the Northern Hemisphere, May Day celebrations often include dancing, singing, cake, and in some countries a Maypole dance. A maypole is a tall pole or stake that ribbons are hung from at the top and participants grab-ahold of the end of the ribbon to proceed around the pole until the ribbons are wrapped completely around and down to the bottom of the pole. One year at a spring neighborhood picnic, we turned a hundred-year-old cottonwood tree into our maypole. What fun we had. These annual picnics created community in the neighborhood which is a form of nesting.
May Day baskets of flowers gifted anonymously to neighbors are another tradition, although it doesn’t seem to be as popular today. One May Day in the 1990s, I gifted my co-workers with anonymous flowers to brighten up the pressure-filled office atmosphere. The gesture got people smiling and talking – which was a welcome change-up to the stresses that had people down and low-spirited.
In some countries, May Day is also recognized as a workers’ rights day – similar to the American Labor Day celebration in September of each year.
May Day is not related to the distress call “mayday” which actually comes from the French phrase “m’aidez” which means help me. Mayday was apparently first used as a “help” procedural word in 1923 by a radio officer in London at the Croydon Airport. The term was to be easy to say and easy to understand so that air crew and ground crew would understand what actions to take. Still in use today as a distress call in international radio-telephone communications, a “mayday” call indicates that help is needed.
How will you celebrate May Day? In what circumstances might you shout “mayday”?
As an author, facilitator, community contributor, business owner, and empty-nest step-parent, Jana watches for the ways in which we nest to create HOME and shares her discoveries in the blog Nesting.
Nesting: is about the objects and experiences that create a sense of home. Without home, it is difficult to maintain health, find joy, or to be productive during our workdays. Enjoy the Nesting series of blogs as you search for your deep sense of home. –Jana