When I was a child at Bonita Elementary School in Crows Landing, California, May Day was a very special occasion. We always created a May Pole around the flag pole at the front of the beautiful, two-story brick building. We dressed in colorful clothes and practiced days in advance to be sure we knew how to weave the ribbons properly. Parents came to watch as students assembled in the front of the school. The band played. The principal spoke, and teachers did special art projects in the classrooms.
I especially remember Mrs. Horwedel, my 4th grade teacher, who had us go out into the fields near the school and pick wild flowers. Then we made paper baskets, filled them with the flowers, and created unique cards.
They weren’t as pretty as the one pictured here, of course, but we thought they were! Some of us took them home to give to our mom. Others hung them on a doorknob of a friend’s house as they walked toward home. (You hang it, ring the doorbell, and run to hide). It’s a surprise! A few decided to hang them on the door of a favorite teacher’s classroom.
In today’s world, there are few schools surrounded by fields with wildflowers, and buying flowers is too expensive. So, the tradition of the May Day baskets has pretty much gone by the wayside, right?
But May Poles didn’t cost much. Just a few bucks for some crepe paper or ribbon strips, and time to practice. I think it’s a shame that in most places we seem to have forgotten this day’s history and we have failed to preserve it.
History of May Day Celebrations
According to Wikipedia, “May Day is a public holiday usually celebrated on 1 May or the first Monday of May. It is an ancient festival of Spring and a current traditional spring holiday in many European cultures. Dances, singing, and cake are usually part of the festivities.”
Let’s get back to dances, singing, and cake! Let’s reinstate the celebration of spring. Let’s recreate the May Pole. Let’s make it a part of our “new normal” once this VOVID-19 pandemic allows us to go back to our schools and hug our neighbors. What do you think?