May Day

© Amber Giraffe 2009

May 1st is May Day. Its roots go back many centuries and was seen as the start of summer. More recent associations have been with the Labour movement and it has become known as Labour day too. In the northern hemisphere it is also known as a cross quarter day as it falls around mid way between the equinox and the solstice. May Day, as used in a distress call, has nothing to do with the calendar date but comes from the French ‘venez m’aider’ or ‘come help me’

May Day is a day of celebration with some pre Christian events surviving to this day despite the attempts of some early Christian movements to either take them over or eradicate them. The Roman festival of Flora who was the Goddess of fruit and flowers, again associated with warmer summer weather. Many parts of Europe celebrate Walpurgis Night after St Walpurga whose holy day is also 1st May. These pre Christian celebrations still survive, to perhaps a lesser degree these days in the UK, as Maypole dancing, Morris dancing and Crowning of the May Queen. As seed sowing was to be completed by this day farm hands were given a day off and is arguably the basis for the widely observed public holiday granted for this day.

May Day is celebrated in many parts of the world whether from it’s early ritualistic roots or its more modern Labour Day connections. Wherever and for whatever reason you celebrate May Day we hope you have a happy one.