A seldom-recognized holiday came and went this past weekend with little fanfare. May Day passed on Sunday with no celebration of any kind that I know of in Marion County. I also saw nothing on any Internet news sites to which I am connected.
Many years ago, long before dirt, I actually took part in a May Day celebration in Cedar Falls, Iowa, at the neighborhood elementary school I attended. I was in sixth grade and as the oldest students, we were honored with the task of weaving streamers of colored ribbons from the top of a flagpole all the way down the pole to the bottom. I am not sure why we did that or what the significance might have been. We had to rehearse the procedure of weaving the colored ribbons for several days as I recall, to be sure that we knew what we were doing. Rehearsal got us out of our regular classes. While we girls thought it was great fun, the boys in our class thought the whole thing was a huge waste of time.
My parents showed up for the May pole event and my dad even brought the movie camera and filmed the weaving of colored ribbons. Yes, there I was in jerky participation weaving in and out, as we were supposed to do, wrapping lengths of multi-colored ribbons in a pattern around a flagpole in our schoolyard. I expect that I was pleased to be filmed in the May Day spectacle. However, home movies being what they were back then, it is probably not worthy of being in anyone’s time capsule — not even my own.
Actually, May Day was first celebrated in the late 1880s as International Worker’s Day. At that time, the labor movement was fighting for unions and an eight-hour day. May 1 was chosen to commemorate the killing of four people by police at a peaceful labor movement rally in Chicago.
When I was weaving my colored ribbon around the flagpole, did I know that? No, not even close. I thought we were celebrating spring. Spring in Iowa was a dramatic event. It burst forth in a matter of days and May Day was indeed a celebration. Later we moved to Illinois and I do not remember any kind of May Day celebration there at all.
However, fast forward to May Day in Peabody and I can recall The Daughters and their friends making little flower baskets of Dixie cups with pipe cleaner handles, stuffing them with whatever blooms were available, and leaving them on doorknobs of neighborhood houses. It has been years since anyone left flowers on my front door.
A thoughtful child did just that Sunday afternoon. How sweet! A construction paper cone-shaped container with a “Happy May Day” message printed on it holding some blue and white phlox, blue forget-me-nots, and a blue and white iris. I heard the footsteps dash across my front porch followed by a quick knock on the door, but I did not see a soul.
I think I might know who shared May Day with me, but I am not certain. However, thank you so much. The flowers are in a vase and they look great. You truly made my day.