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May Day is May 1

30 April 2:00 am
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My mother and my grandmother use to talk about May Day celebrations.  I heard about Maypoles and ribbons and flowers and dancing.  It’s a holiday we no longer celebrate in the U.S., but you can certainly incorporate it into your homeschooling, as a history lesson, a sociology class, or an art project.

My mother and grandmother celebrated the totally nonpolitical season of Spring.  For others, May 1 has a strong political connotation as it is associated with important labor protests in the U.S.  In acknowledgment of these labor protests, many countries (other than the U.S.) made May 1 their Labor Day.  May Day–what a dichotomous holiday!

As for the Spring aspect of May Day, people celebrated the start of spring by “going a-maying” or “bringing in the may” .  They did so by gathering flowers and greenery, by sprucing up their permanent Maypole or by erecting a new one, by dancing around the Maypole and by having May Day spring parades.

You can make your own tabletop Maypole by going to

http://familycrafts.about.com/od/maydayprojects/a/TabletopMayPole.htm

Also, a book your younger children might like, is On the Morn of Mayfest by Erica Silverman which is all about a little girl’s spontaneous May Day parade.

On a more political/historical note, on  May 1, 1886 unions across the Unites States went on strike, demanding that the work day be shortened to eight hours.  These protests were bold and brave, and violent.  Many people were hurt.   Although the protests were not immediately successful in their goal, the eight hour work day did eventually become the norm.  Labor leaders around the world took the American strikes as a rallying point, choosing May Day as their Labor Day, and as a day for speeches, demonstrations, and politically based parades.

May Day–the holiday that has a little something for everyone!

Ann Simpson

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