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May Day

Maypole Dancers
Maypole Dancers

A traditional holiday in England for centuries, May Day is a celebration of springtime fertility marked by revelry, dances, parties and community gatherings.

During medieval times, May Day celebrants would go
"a-maying" in the countryside gathering greenery, flowers and a tree that was cut down to serve as the "may pole."

Sexual promiscuity associated with "a maying" caused May Day to be banned by the English Parliament in 1644. It reemerged when Charles II took the throne in 1660, but the sexuality of the festival was no longer overt and the holiday was transformed to a celebration of England.

The May Day Bank Holiday in the United Kingdom is observed on the first Monday in May.

May Pole

The best-known May Day tradition is the May Pole,
 a brightly painted and decorated pole that serves at the central point for festivities, and around which traditional dancers perform.

Beginning in the 19th century, the may pole was often braided with ribbons in the hands of dancers weaving in and out during the course of a dance.

Other May Day traditions include making garlands for children and the crowning of the May Queen.

May Day Baskets

Hanging a basket full of spring flowers or other small gifts on a  a friend or neighbor's doorstep is a
contemporary May Day tradition.  The baskets are often made by little children, filled with candy or flowers, and delivered anonymously.


May Day feativals are believed to have originated with celebrations of the Roman goddess Flora that spread to other countries of the Roman Empire.


A major pagan festival,  Beltane is
typically observed on the first day of May. Sometimes spelled Beltaine or Beltain, it marks the start of summer or the height of spring, occuring halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice.

International Worker's Day

May 1 is International Workers' Day in many countries and a national holiday in nations such as Portugal, Sweden and Turkey in Europe; Bolivia, Peru and Brazil in South America; and both Koreas, India and China in Asia.

Labor groups and progressive activists have traditionally used this day for public demonstrations, as the Occupy Wall Street movement will be doing in 2012.  Demonstrations are planned in as many as 125 U.S. cities, according to
Occupy Wall Street Movement Protest Tee Shirt

More Holidays



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