Saturday, May 1, 2010

Dance around the May Pole!

Happy May Basket Day!

Well, technically it's just May Day, but we used to call it May Basket Day when I was a kid.

What is May Day?

"May Day is related to the Celtic festival of Beltane and the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. May Day falls exactly half of a year from November 1, another cross-quarter day which is also associated with various northern European pagan and neopagan festivals such as Samhain. May Day marks the end of the uncomfortable winter half of the year in the Northern hemisphere, and it has traditionally been an occasion for popular and often raucous celebrations.

"As Europe became Christianized the pagan holidays lost their religious character and either changed into popular secular celebrations, as with May Day, or were merged with or replaced by new Christian holidays as with Christmas, Easter, and All Saint's Day. In the twentieth century, many neopagans began reconstructing the old traditions and celebrating May Day as a pagan religious festival again. "


"Maryian procession on 1 May in LondonThe earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times, with the festival of Flora, the Roman Goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane. Many pagan celebrations were abandoned or Christianized during the process of conversion in Europe. A more secular version of May Day continues to be observed in Europe and America. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the Maypole and crowning of the Queen of the May. Various Neopagan groups celebrate reconstructed (to varying degrees) versions of these customs on May the 1st. The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of Spring, May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer. In the Roman Catholic tradition, May is observed as Mary's month, and in these circles May Day is usually a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this connection, in works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary's head will often be adorned with flowers in a May crowning. Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of "May baskets," small baskets of sweets and/or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbors' doorsteps. "

As a kid, each year we would use pieces of construction paper, or a paper doily if we were lucky enough to have those, some pipe cleaners or ribbons and make a cone with a handle. We would fill them with popcorn, peanuts and/or wrapped candy, then topped them with some violets we picked from the yard.

We would go to all the other kids houses in town (and trust me, my little town was probably 50% kids under 17), hang the cone basket on the doorknob, knock and run like heck! If you were caught, they were allowed to kiss you.

I was only caught once. He didn't kiss me. But then again, later in life he discovered he was gay so I'm way less offended by that now.

I kind of miss that we don't do this anymore, or that anyone even KNOWS what May Basket Day is!

Vive la Revolucion! I demand an uprising, an undercurrent of people pushing their grassroots effort to revive this important day! Stand if you are with me... raise your fist to the maypole gods!




ceedeedee said...

We did them! I miss it now.

Tracy said...

I have heard of this and love the idea.
I do this for halloween, Christmas and Easter to the girls across the street. I took them a few days but then the mom phoned me and told me she knew it was me LOL.
I still do this and make sure they don't see me.

Darcie said...

Oh yes. We used to do that too-I think my mom had as much fun as I did!

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