If you have ever asked yourself: What is May Day? You have come to the right place!
On the first of May every single year, much of the world is involved in a Spring festival, often treated as a public holiday.
In Ireland, many villages hold communal meals to reinforce a feeling of community and kinship.
Because May Day coincides with International Worker’s Day, many will also attend labour day parades or celebrations in the larger cities.
May Day is an age old holiday that actually made its appearance during the pre-Christian days during the festival of Flora.
It is also strongly related and associated with the Gaelic holiday of Beltane.
During May Day celebrations, bonfires were lit to mark the coming summer, and to banish those long nights associated with winter.
Other more modern May Day traditions include maypole dancing, and the crowning of the May Day queen.
Many Roman Catholics practice a version of the holiday in which they observe ‘Mary’s Month’. This practice celebrates the Virgin Mary, complete with children's art and school skits.
In this tradition, Mary’s head is often adorned with flowers, a May crowning.
May baskets are an old tradition that seem to have faded during the late 20th century, but can still be found from time to time.
The May Basket is a flower filled basket handed out by both adults and
children, in celebration of the season.
These baskets can be given to anyone, whether they are friends, family, or simply left anonymously on a neighbor’s doorstep.
A Maypole is a tall pole adorned with colorful ribbons that are fixed to the top of the pole. The opposite ends of the ribbons are held by dancers at ground level.
During the dance, the ribbons are weaved into beautiful patterns.
While the maypole tradition has faded with time, it was once associated with fertility and the start of the courting season.
One of the more popular May Day crafts is the May basket we discussed a moment ago...
Other popular crafts include the spring flower mobile, and the paper flower vase. These beautiful creations require only the simplest of materials, and are an engaging way to involve children in a historical and meaningful springtime tradition.
Well, first of all it is a public holiday. It is also the modern version of ancient traditions celebrating the coming of spring and the beginning of the courting season.
The first day of May is designated International Worker's Day, giving us a second reason to celebrate the day (although the two reasons are clearly not related!)
As with any other Irish public holiday, banks, post offices, and most other businesses are closed on the first Monday of May.
Some exceptions include public transport services, gas stations and yes ... neighborhood pubs.
If you have been with us for awhile, you may have gathered that the Seasons, particularly Spring, play a major role in Irish / Celtic traditions and celebrations.
May Day is an obvious example, as is Easter. For more information and examples, click here to have a look at our section on Irish holiday traditions.
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