May the 1st is such an exciting day.
A celebration of summer beginning AND a global day of solidarity for the workers of the world!
In ancient times May Day was celebrated as Beltane by the Celts, one of the 8 sabbats of the year. A festival of fertility and new life. All the flowers are flowering, the crops are growing, and young men and women are getting frisky down by the maypole!
The maypole itself represents the phallus, and would be ritually carried by the young men, and placed in its hole in the ground. Which represents…well you get the idea.
Folks would then adorn the maypole with flowers and greenery. In more recent times this has included ribbons, which are attached then entwined by dancing around holding the ribbons.
To represent the duality of fertility a girl would be made May Queen for the day. A boy would be the green man or jack-in-the-green.
And what is a celebration without a bonfire?! Yeah burn it baby!
In Roman times this festival was dedicated to Floralia, the goddess of flowers, and in Germany it is Walpurgis Night.
In Cornwall the town of Padstow has the annual ‘Obby-Oss’ (translation; Hobby Horse) day. The town is decorated with spring greenery and the Oss dances through the town, followed by crowds singing, and wearing sashes. Other town in Cornwall have also revived this ancient fertility rite.
Tradition has it that washing your face in the May Day dew will make you beautiful.
May Day is also one of the few ancient celebrations that haven’t been adapted by the church (like Christmas, Easter and many of the religious ‘quarter days’). But as such it is seen as something light-hearted and a bit of fun.
In addition to being a day of spring and fertility May 1st is also
International Workers Day.
Since the 1880’s Socialist and workers union groups have used May 1st as a focus point for protests and celebrations, in support of workers everywhere. Calling on solidarity for the working man and woman, and for campaigns (such as the demand to work for only 8 hours a day).
In many countries around the world May 1st is a public holiday, often known as Labour Day. In communist countries like China, North Korea and the Soviet Union (as was) this often includes huge parades, showing off military and industrial prowess.
In the Catholic church May 1st is St. Joseph’s day- the patron saint of workers and craftsmen.
In recent years the Occupy movement has also used May 1st as focus for protests.
All in all May Day is possibly one of the best days of the year! A day for all hard working people to set down their tools, and dance around town with flowers and ribbons!
pictures from google and help from wiki.