Do you have any idea what May Day is about? I did some research this morning, and here is the scoop:
May Day has been celebrated in a variety of ways for centuries. The Druids of the British Isles observed it as Beltane, celebrating the season's renewal of life with bonfires built in honor of the onset of summer. The fires were for purification and protection in the upcoming year.
Along came the romans, whose May Day festivals honored Floralia, the goddess of flowers. The rituals of Beltane and Floralia became co-mingled.
Prominent among the festivities was the Maypole Dance. I remember doing this when I was a kid, weaving ribbons around the pole as we passed under each others' streamers. And then reversing direction to unbraid them again.
When the Puritans came along, May Day celebrations were out of favor, due to its pagan origins. That only lasted a couple of decades, and the holiday remains popular in the British Isles as well as throughout Europe.
May Day is also known as International Worker's Day. The origin of this facet of the holiday is here in the United States, in the labor movement of the 1800's. The Knights of Labor held a strike at Chicago's McCormick Harvesting Machine Company. Fighting broke out in the picket lines, and when the police intervened several workers were injured or killed. More violence ensued at a protest meeting the following day.
But the first of May came to be known as a time to celebrate the fight for the rights of workers, and we can thank those who came before us for many of the labor laws that protect us today–including the 8 hour workday. Although in America we celebrate Labor Day in September, most other countries place it in May.
Whether you choose to celebrate renewal, flowers, maypoles, labor rights, or just enjoy a day or rest this first of May, I hope you are filled with the blessings of the season.
Happy May Day.
aka The Mad Stamper
References: Wikipedia.com, theholidayspot.com, moonsmuses.com