The Reason May Day is an Original Holiday
Posted on 04/25/2016
Spring has been in full-force for over a month now, but there’s a time-honored tradition that marks the first official day of spring. That’s right—it involves baskets and sometimes even a pole with ribbons tied to it. We’re talking about May Day, which falls on May 1st every year.
It’s so much more than the first day of the month; it’s a holiday of original happenings. Let’s explore how May Day started and how you can celebrate the special occasion this year.
The Original “Ding-Dong Ditch”
Have you ever heard of that crazy thing teenagers and young people have adopted as a prank? They ring doorbells and run away before anybody discovers who was at the door in the first place. May Day is kind of like that, only nicer.
Instead of leaving neighbors with a confused look and nothing on their doorstep, on May Day people ring doorbells and leave a surprise on the front porch. That could be a basket full of goodies, home-baked goods or a gift card to their favorite restaurant *wink, wink*.
Pro tip: hide somewhere where they won’t see you and you can still see their reaction. It’ll be priceless and they never have to know. Or, you can clue them in later if you’re really proud of your efforts.
The Original Workers’ Strike
According to the Industrial Workers of the World, May Day began as a strike against the working day. In the late nineteenth century, workers struggled to work a normal 8-hour day. Instead, they were being forced to work anywhere from 10-16 hours in conditions that weren’t safe. On May 1, 1886, it is reported that more than 300,000 workers walked off of their jobs to protest.
Today, most don’t get to take May Day off of work. However, it has become a recognized day in the history of the United States and the eight hour work day has become standard practice for many.
The Original Medieval Dance
Ok, so maybe it wasn’t the first, but it certainly was a custom celebrated in Medieval times. Ribbons were attached to the top of a pole or tree, and it was customary for dancers weave the ribbons in a pattern to create a beautiful outcome.
You can recreate the May Pole dance in your yard with a tree and some ribbon, or in a local park as long as you okay it with the proper authorities. Employ some of your friends to help with a customary celebration. You can also assemble friends to create baskets to go and deliver to friends.