Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day

Courtesy of PaperMatrix

Does anyone still celebrate May Day? I may be dating myself, but growing up I remember that we celebrated May day at school by making May Baskets and filling them with flowers to take home (usually for our Moms) and I also remember doing the May Pole Dance (we usually used a tether ball pole decorated with streamers). I don't think any of my kids have celebrated May Day in school -my oldest is 24 so the tradition went away quite a while ago! I thought I remembered that May Day was traditionally based upon a pagan celebration so I wonder if that has anything to do with why it is not celebrated in our local schools anymore. I did a Google Search to see if I could find more information on this celebration and this is what I found on Wikpedia:

Traditional May Day celebrations

May Day is related to the Celtic festival of Beltane and the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. May Day falls exactly half a year from November 1, another cross-quarter day which is also associated with various northern European pagan and the year in the Northern hemisphere, and it has traditionally been an occasion for popular and often raucous celebrations. As Europe became Christianized, the pagan holidays lost their religious character and either changed into popular secular celebrations, as with May Day, or were merged with or replaced by new Christian holidays as with Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and All Saint's Day. In the twentieth century, many neopagans began reconstructing the old traditions and celebrating May Day as a pagan religious festival again.


The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane. Many pagan celebrations were abandoned or Christianized during the process of conversion in Europe. A more secular version of May Day continues to be observed in Europe and America. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the maypole dance and crowning of the Queen of the May. Various Neopagan groups celebrate reconstructed (to varying degrees) versions of these customs on May 1st.
The Tip Junkie has a great post on making all different kinds of May Day Baskets - from simple to more involved. While searching for the woven paper baskets that I remember making I discovered a wonderful new blog - PaperMatrix! The paper crafts on her blog are simply beautiful and she gives us step by step instructions on how to create each one. There is also a section of printable paper dolls and clothes! I love tradition and I am disappointed that my kids are not bringing me home their decorated May Baskets - I think I just might have to start our own tradition and make May Baskets at home. Do you celebrate May Day and what do you do to celebrate?

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