“May Day” is an interesting day where I live. I remember the dying tradition of leaving a small basket of flowers hanging from a neighbor’s doorknob when I was little, but I haven’t really heard of this tradition in years – and certainly not from people my age or younger. I know I did this at least once when I was little – around kindergarten age. It was fun to hang a paper basket to a neighbor’s doorknob filled with flowers I’d picked from my yard (probably mostly clover and dandelions, honestly), ring the doorbell, and run. From what I gather online, this is mostly a northern-hemisphere tradition,1 which makes sense as we are in the full swing of Spring looking forward to Summer, whereas the southern hemisphere is experiencing fall (something that still blows my mind at 30). The happy traditions of this day stretch back to Gaelic times, and the Pagan celebration of Beltane – the halfway point between solstice and equinox.2
The history of violence associated with May Day goes back to 1886 – worker protests turned violent over the course of a few days.3; However, it seems like it’s just been in the last several years that May Day has been regularly associated with violence. From what I found online, it seems that annual protests began in 2006 after the passing of the “Illegal Immigration Control Act”,1 and past years there have been varying levels of protest, violence, and vandalism in Seattle (and likely other areas around the country). I know I remember hearing about protests turning violent on the news the last several years at least. According a local news website4 there are several permitted marches and rallies planned for this evening… and a non-permitted anti-capitalist protest by anarchists. Hopefully everybody can be civilized tonight, but that would be rather going against tradition, unfortunately.
I haven’t heard mention of flowers on May Day in years, but searching online shows I’m very much not the only one to remember the tradition. I do thoroughly agree with Madonna Dries Christensen in the article featured on NPR that it would be horrible for this holiday to be commercialized as all of the others have been. I love the care and fun that goes into making little treats and gifts for people (if you couldn’t already tell by all my other blog posts), rather than heading to a shop and buying something pre-made to dangle from a doorknob, turning this last holiday into Valentine’s Day Part Two.
A quick search on Pinterest shows that this tradition isn’t quite as gone as it seems – there are dozens of cute ideas for making little baskets to fill with flowers and/or treats to hang on a neighbor’s doorknob. So please, pick a few flowers, gather a few candies, or string a ribbon around a potted plant, and go hang it from your neighbor’s doorknob. I’m waiting for my two neighbors to notice their goodies… I chickened out at the last minute and skipped ringing the doorbell! 🙂
Do you celebrate May Day, or have you in the past?