One Busy Guy Presents...
May Day! May Day! It's May Day!
Many of our calendar observances were initiated so long ago that the origins have passed out of common knowledge. One nice thing about the internet is the wealth of information available to those who search. After a little poking around I was lucky enough to find out why the May Day designation exists and what it celebrates.
Who can fail to recall the elementary school ritual of the Maypole? So much colorful crepe paper entwined over and under and in opposite directions with all the pretty young girls in spring dresses who wore matching ribbons in their hair. It sure sounds like a nice healthy way to spend an afternoon! The May Pole was plaited by young maidens celebrating the 'first bloom of womanhood'.
May Day was at first a pagan custom to mark the seasonal transition to summer by bringing a tree from the woods and into the village. The curious thing about this tree hunt is that numerous villagers would disappear into the forest and enter into all sorts of sexual liaisons that were not permitted or accepted in normal society. These rites of fertility were meant to ensure abundance in the coming harvest.
Apparently the May Queen (a virgin) would have at one time been sacrificed. So I suppose being a virgin was not such a a good deal.
The entire celebration came under attack in 1644 by the Puritans who banned it by an act of parliament. It seems that scarcely one third of the hundreds of youths entering the forest returned undefiled. The holiday was restored in 1660 by Charles the Second but with far less sexual overtones. That's when young girls started to wear white and carry posies. This eventually evolved into a healthier recognition of Spring. Forests were natures bounty provided for man to use as he wished. The flower garlands embodied a sense of plenty and for a short while this became a season of giving such as Christmas or Easter.
Today we have far less forests to ravage. The whole issue has been somewhat overshadowed by Cinco De Mayo (a Mexican day of liberation... and apparently far more commercially exploitable).
That's the story and I'm stickin' to it...