May Day celebration

IMG_9325 colorRemember the childhood rhyme April showers bring May flowers? Flowers are a big part of my family’s May Day celebrations.

When we were little my mother helped us create May baskets to deliver early in the morning on May 1. We made “cone baskets” of construction paper and Scotch tape the night before. Flowers from Mom’s garden were picked and arranged into bundles while the dew was still on them the next morning (my sister’s favorites were dandelions which never seemed to make it through the night). Each bundle’s stems were wrapped in soggy paper towel and rubber-banded inside a baggy. The baggies were wedged inside the paper cones. Then we’d hang the baskets on the neighbors’ front doors before they had awoken for their first cup of coffee.

I was shocked to learn so few of my friends had celebrated this holiday. It was a rite of spring we kept up until my family moved out into the country and neighbors were more than walking distance away.

The first day of May is celebrated in many parts of the world. It may have evolved from the ancient Egyptian agricultural and fertility rites of spring. However, the majority of the current traditions stem from the Roman Festival, Floralia. This was a five-day festival honors the Goddess Flora with offerings of flowers, dancing with ribbons around a Maypole and ringing bells. Other spring awakening traditions incorporated into today’s May Day celebrations came from the ancient Celtic Beltane and Germanic Walpurgis Night.

May Day is still celebrated around the world with the traditions and stories varying from place to place. The common theme in most celebrations is the use of flowers. Here in the US, it is typical to hang a basket full of spring flowers and/or other small gifts on a neighbor’s doorknob. The trick is you don’t want the neighbor to see you! If you get caught, you are supposed to get a kiss.

If you are thinking of trying it this year. Here are some great ideas for May Day celebrations, traditions and baskets on Pinterest.

Here is a template for cone baskets then use ribbon or yarn for the handle.


About Kary Beck

Mother and wife, gardener, wine enthusiast, avid online bargain hunter, and owner of two black-and-tan cocker spaniels.
This entry was posted in Just for fun and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to May Day celebration

  1. Christine says:

    Kary, my family used to make May baskets too! Love this trip down memory lane… and perhaps I might be inspired to create new memories!!!


  2. Jeanne Engle says:

    Kary, I can remember making May baskets for my grandmother. My sisters and I would pick wildflowers and bring them to her. She was the only neighbor close by since we lived in the country. Spring was a wonderful time to wander in the 40-acre woods that surrounded our house. I loved the trilliums. Thanks for the memory!


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