May Day Memories

Happy May Day! Do you have any May Day memories? The custom of May Day festivities seems to have died in the USA, so I offer these memories of my own as a tribute:

May Day was a quiet event in the early 1950s when I was a grade schooler. We often made decorated cone shaped paper baskets with hand colored flowers and designs, sometimes in school, others at home. We carefully created and attached handles long enough to slip over a doorknob. We'd pick a few flowers, whatever we could find (even clover and dandelions if that was all there was available). After we stuffed grass around to hold the flowers in place, we'd hang the basket on a neighbor's door, ring the bell and run.

One year one of my classes, maybe in third grade, had a May Pole dance. I looked forward to that for days, imagining something like faeries playing flutes while we pirouetted about in perfect order, finishing with an elegantly wrapped pole and True Love from then on. Just like in the story books. (Maybe, I thought, my brunette hair would turn golden for the moment. Yeah, right! Just like my dress would turn to shimmery gossamer silk chiffon, ankle length.) Surely it would be a magical day!

What a disappointment the day turned out to be. The May Pole looked like a closet rod, about six feet tall, obtained from the woodshop and stuck in the middle of the scrappy playground grass at a slight tilt. Somebody (the teacher?) had nailed a couple of dozen strips of crepe paper to the top, and we whirled around trying to weave in and out to wrap it. At the beginning, we sang a song. That didn't last long. Everyone was giggling and bumping into each other. Shrieks of pain soon replaced the giggles. Most of the streamers tore loose, the rest tangled, clothing became grass stained, and the whole thing was a big mess. I don't even remember if we had cookies and juice at the end. Surely so.

Not too surprising that was the only year I remember a May Pole! Somehow even the basket custom faded over the years and my sixth-grader grandson just informed me he never heard of this day. I hope my words will help keep it alive as at least a fact of history.

Do you have any May Day memories to preserve? What about other lesser holidays like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July? Did your family have a tradition of special picnics or other frolics that were unique to your family at specific times? How about celebrating these memories with a few words for future generations?

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal

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