My third grade teacher, Mrs. Blevins, loved the first day of May. She was a teacher who loved pink – in fact, she wore pink every day. She was also my neighbor and her house was filled with pink. When I think of her, I remember a positive and thoughtful teacher who taught us two important life lessons – to enjoy the ritual of spring and to do something nice and unexpected for others.
In my elementary school, we were encouraged to wear full skirts in pastel colors so that we could dance around the May Pole. It was a fun celebration in the springtime when the air was crisp but the sun shined after a long winter. We were also encouraged to bring flowers to someone who may not expect them.
One year my sister and I decided to share a small hand-picked bouquet of spring flowers with an elderly neighbor. We were excited as we put them on her door step. We hid in the bushes to see her reaction – it wasn’t one of joy as we hoped – she thought we put a bunch of weeds on her porch. She was probably startled by her door bell and then saw the “flowers” we placed on her step. She yelled, “who put these weeds on my porch?” We didn’t say a word – we were too scared to tell her it was her next door neighbor kids.
As I reflect on these memories, I invite you to join me in looking back at some beautiful pictures from the University of Missouri Archives showing May Day Celebrations.
The Archives of the University of Missouri highlight the early traditions of May Day. According to their records, “May Day originated as a spring fertility festival in India and Egypt to celebrate the goddess of spring. The holiday is also tied to agricultural rituals in Medieval Europe. It was tradition for villagers to go before dawn, on the eve of May First, in search of a tree that could become the village Maypole. The tree would be cut down and the boughs sawed off. Oxen dragged the tree into the village, initiating celebration and enthusiasm from the villagers, who paraded in the streets”.
Celebrations in 2015
While May Day celebrations date back to Medieval times, Bryn Mawr University in Pennsylvania continues the tradition of May Day with a different twist. In 2015, they will celebrate on May 3rd as studying and finals are over. Sophomores awaken seniors with flowers and song. They continue with a day-long celebration that includes a May Pole Celebration, dinner on the green and singing, dancing and celebrations throughout the day. Check out their website for a fun schedule of events.
What lesson did I learn from this? Even though we have an intention to do something nice – we may not see the results we hope. But…. it is still important to give of yourself and to think of others. So on this May Day, I encourage you to try one of these ideas:
• Bring flowers to someone who may not be able to get outside and enjoy the spring air.
• Make a May Day basket of real or paper flowers with your child.
• Get outside and enjoy the crisp May air.
• Plant a flower in your garden or yard.
• Dance around the May Pole and celebrate spring.
How will you celebrate spring?