Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day

So here we are at the first of May.

It’s an interesting day in history and in various cultures.

It is related to the Celtic festival of Beltane. It was an ancient springtime festival of optimism coupled with bonfires and dancing.

May first is also historically attached to the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. They did similar things as the Celts, bonfires and dancing to celebrate the end of winter and the coming of spring.

When I was a child May first was celebrated in the papers and newsreels as a holiday known as May Day. The communist countries at that time would parade their missiles and armies in big city squares for the entire world to see.

It was also known as a day to remember the struggles of workers who were killed or oppressed in their fight for better wages and working conditions; that’s probably why the communists embraced it.

The United States countered with a proclamation in 1958 by President Eisenhower that May first would henceforth be known as “law day.” A day to reflect on the role of law and its importance in a democratic society.

Some early European settlers on the American continent celebrated May Day by leaving baskets of flowers or treats at someone’s doorstep. They would knock and run away. The person getting the basket would try to catch the basket giver. If they caught the person a kiss was exchanged.

I like that one.

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