Friday, April 30, 2010
Happy May Day!
I remember May Day from when I lived in Germany, but I think it was just a holiday and maybe there was a Volksmarch thrown in for good measure. What do I know? I was a teenager. [rolls eyes] I was mostly concerned with the things of me.
Today I pay more attention to the world around me and I've noticed that here in Iowa, lots of friendly Midwestern people celebrate May Day with May baskets like the one I found on my desk when I got back from lunch.
These baskets are small and usually filled with flowers or treats and left at someone's doorstep. The basket giver rings the doorbell and runs away or hides around the corner of the house. You're supposed to try to catch the person who is hiding. If you do, you can have a kiss.
My co-worker Heidi left it as you can see, but until this year, she had her children make the baskets for neighbors and do the whole hiding in the bushes routine. It’s just a fun thing. But I bet the boys did a good job of hiding so they wouldn't have to kiss anyone! As a matter of fact I think I recall her saying that maybe one year her oldest thought a neighbor girl was pretty...
Wikipedia makes us all experts, so here is what I now know about May Day:
May Day is related to the Celtic festival of Beltane and the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. 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.
Beltane or Beltaine is the anglicised spelling of Bealtaine or Bealltainn, the Gaelic names for either the month of May or the festival that takes place on the first day of May. In Irish Gaelic, the month of May is known as Mí Bhealtaine or Bealtaine, and the festival as Lá Bealtaine ('day of Bealtaine' or 'May Day').
As an ancient Gaelic festival, Bealtaine was celebrated in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, though there were similar festivals held at the same time in the other Celtic countries of Wales, Cornovii areas of England, Brittany and Cornwall. Bealtaine and Samhain were the leading terminal dates of the civil year in Ireland though the latter festival was the more important.