Wednesday, April 17, 2013

May Day

A Brief History of May Day 
by Brenda Massei of the Waldorf on Etsy shop Pail and Pie


 Waldorf Play Silk
 A wonderful entry into the summer season is May Day, the first day of May. It’s a celebration of the summer days to come and a thankfulness for spring’s renewal. Many groups brought forth the traditions we use today.
 
 In the past, May 1st  was the exact half point of the Druid calendar and so chosen as a date of great celebration. This date also was celebrated by Romans who held a five day event between April 28th and May 3rd for the Goddess Flora which focused on fertility, flowers, the renewal of the circle of life, and drinking. 


Also, during the Middle Ages, every village square held it’s crowning glory, a freshly cut tree, removed of it’s bark and decorated with flowers and ribbons. Great care was taken in selecting the trees and towns were known to be competitive about the sizes of their poles, which then were signs of fertility as well. 
  
 Floral Head Band
How Can We Celebrate Today?
A more common tradition today is to make and share May baskets. These are usually a form of a paper basket or cone. These baskets are filled with fresh cut or potted flowers and hung or shared with friends. Some delight in making and sharing anonymously.

Wood Peg Daisy Sprite
Flowers are out in abundance come May and the perfect decoration to celebrate the lovely weather. Crowns can be woven with an ivy or vinca vine base and any flowers tucked in for color and show. Hang them on a nail for a sweet and simple wreath when done. 
 
 Flower Child
Songs or poems signifying the abundance of nature are fun to learn alongside your children. Reading song lyrics as poetry is just as rhythmic if we are unsure of the tune.  Cakes and cookies look special when adorned with edible flowers, ribbons, and/or miniature may poles. 
 
May poles may be a bit more difficult to set up at home, but look for local festivals. Our botanic garden has a pole they set up for 
May Day complete with ribbons, music, dancers, and flowers. Just watching the dancers go around is fun for my children. For smaller, private affairs, attach ribbons to any posts or poles in your yard for the day. Your children will delight in running round and winding the ribbon for themselves. 


This is the first year we are making May Day a group affair with friends. Check out our May Day Festival photos at www.pioneerkids.wordpress.com. Our event is May 4th and will include crowns, music, flowers, and the adorned pole.  
 May Day Bag
 May Day Bag

References:
Cary, Diana and Judy Large. Festivals, Family and Food. Gloucestershire, UK: Hawthorne Press, 1982.

2 comments:

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