The unique and beautiful traditions of May Day have sadly become lost and wilted over time—is it time to bring them back?
Spring is finally here! This time of year is often associated with floral holidays like Easter and Mother’s Day, but years ago, the season used to start in earnest with May Day.
When Did May Day Start?
The earliest known history of May celebrations began with the Floralia, the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers. This festival was typically held on April 27th. The Floralia opened with theatrical performances, including a ritual called the Florifertum that was performed on either the 27th or May 3rd, where a bundle of wheat was carried into a shrine for the devotion of Flora.
In the 18th century many Catholics observed May Day with various devotions to the Virgin Mary. In works of art, school skits and other performances, Mary’s head would be depicted adorned with flowers.
Today, the most commonly-known May Day traditions are the maypole, crowning the Queen of May, and the giving of May baskets. dancing around a painted maypole decorated with flowers. People dance around the maypole holding long ribbons attached to the top of the pole. Crowning the Queen of May, and the tradition of anonymously leaving neighbors, family, and friends May baskets of flowers and sweets on their doorsteps.
What is a May basket?
In the 19th and 20th century, children and young adults would start the spring off by gathering flowers and arranging them in a paper cone along with candies and small trinkets. These were then hung on the door of a friend’s or neighbor’s home to welcome them into spring.
As time progressed, baskets were then used along with paper cones in the May Day tradition, and a new meaning was formed. The holiday started to become a second Valentine’s Day, it was a way of letting a romantic prospect know your feelings.
So what happened to this joyous holiday—was it a spread of “stay off my lawn” mentality? Nowadays, only certain parts of the US, Canada, and European countries still observe May Day.
Can May Day Be Brought Back?
Why not?? As florists we handle and arrange beautiful flowers each day, why not bring back the May Day series of traditions to put a smile back on someones face.
As a business owner, there is a potential in obtaining a new and younger generation of customers by offering May Day baskets or cones. One way is to offer May Day baskets or cones to your customers, explain the tradition and see if they would like to purchase to distribute the basket or cone themselves or for you to deliver to a local nursing home or hospital.
Everything is potential and why not start with a holiday that was created for flowers!
Florists, do you try and keep the May Day tradition alive at your shop, and would you be interested in bringing it back? Please share your thoughts and comments below!
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