In the words of Lancelot and Guinevere from the musical Camelot, “Tra La! It’s May, the lusty month of May, that lovely month when everyone goes blissfully astray.”
Wow! How can you help but be excited about a month with that reputation? May does have a lot going for it.
May 5 is the celebration of Cinco de Mayo. This celebration recognizes the Mexican victory over France on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla. This colorful, vibrant, and festive day is filled with music, dancing, great food, and honoring Mexico’s rich heritage.
May 14 is a very special day for all of us Mothers. This day is set aside for us all to celebrate our mothers and give her the special recognition she deserves. Mother’s Day is now celebrated in many parts of the world besides America.
The legacy of honoring mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. These trailblazers held festivals in honor of the mother goddess Rben and Cybele.
Our American Mother’s Day originated in the 19th century when, before the civil war, Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped start a Mother’s Day Work Club. In 1886 Jarvis organized Mother’s Day.
In 1870 Julia Ward Howe wrote the Mothers Friends Proclamation and chartered the official Mother’s Day. Jarvis conceived its conception during the suffering and death of her own mother in 1905.
Americans broadly celebrate Mother’s Day, often with the giving of flowers, cards, and gifts. Mother’s Day has become a day of lavish consumerism, which retail stores look forward to. It is one of the busiest mail times for the post office and a hectic day for florists and restaurants all over who are kept cheerfully busy as family members take their honored guests, their mothers, to dine out.
It is also the single busiest day for phone calls as people everywhere reach out with a call to Mom. Yet, my heart is always torn on Mother’s Day. I find myself sifting through years of memories of my mother, Kit Scott, who died 25 years ago at 76. It is a very bittersweet time of longing for what is beyond my grasp.
It is also a day when my three children remind me that I am loved. I get to look into the future by not only seeing what wonderful mothers my daughters have become but to see my oldest granddaughter with her daughter, and my youngest granddaughter, who will become a mother herself in three short months.
Our merry month of May concludes with Memorial Day. This solemn day is a federal holiday in the United States honoring and mourning our military personnel who died while serving in the US armed forces.
Historically this day originated in the American Civil War when citizens placed flowers on the graves of those killed in battle. Unfortunately, today few American families have been spared the pain of losing an ancestor or relative in the service of our country.
Flags are hung, flowers and wreaths are placed on graves, and prayers are said to honor these brave Americans yearly. We all live close to the National Cemetery at Santa Nella. Trust me; walking that hallowed ground is a very moving experience. There in the deep quiet, in the presence of so many lost souls, you cannot help but be powerfully moved.
There is even more to this fifth month of our calendar year. Let me share with you some of these amazing facts about the merry month of May. May is the only month when no American president has died.
May was known for some reason as an incredibly ill-omened month to marry and a no-no for buying new brooms. It is also known as a time when blankets get dirty, and it is a bad month to wash them. Who knew?
Every year May gets to celebrate with a meteor shower called the Eta Aquamios. And if you were born in May, you are said to have a greater chance of being successful in life and experiencing more love.
May has two birth flowers, the Lily and the Hawthorn, and two zodiac signs, Taurus and Gemini.
May also has thirty-one reasons to celebrate; one for each of its 31 days. So, you have much to choose from if you are in a celebratory mood.
How about World Turtle Day or Stay Up All Night, Night? Maybe International No-Diet Day suits your fancy, or National Grape Popsicle Day? On the other hand, you may favor Love a Tree Day, or perhaps National No Dirty Dishes Day?
On a more serious side, the Celts of the British Isles believe May Day to be the most important day of their year. This is because it was when the feast of Beltane was held, which divided the year between light and dark. At that time, a symbolic fire was one of the main rituals of the festival, helping to celebrate the return of life and fertility.
Most of us have heard about May Poles. While we are still determining their origin, they can be traced back to at least medieval times and are still being celebrated in some places today.
We know villagers would enter the woods to find a May Pole in small towns and sometimes even larger cities. Town leaders or employers would have decorated these May Day poles earlier.
After these cheerfully decorated poles were found, there would be dancing around the ribbon-draped pole. Historians believe that the dancing around the maypole originated as part of a fertility ritual, with the pole symbolizing the male with the wreaths and the baskets being carried by the women.
In America, Maypole dances were discouraged by the Puritans. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
May Basket Day was celebrated across the country when baskets were created with flowers, candies, and other treats and then hung on the doors of friends, neighbors, or loved ones on May first.
Today May Day is still an official holiday in 66 countries, and unofficially in many others. May Day is still considered symbolic of unity, togetherness, and rebirth.
In Hawaii, May Day is known as Lei Day, a celebration of the aloha spirit by giving flowers.
In contrast to these gay celebrations of May Day, May Day 1886 marked the day when more than 300,000 American workers from over 13,000 businesses walked out on their jobs across the country for better treatment, seeking an eight-hour work day and better, safer working conditions.
In the following days, more workers joined, and the numbers grew. Finally, after much violence and debate, these workers created a demand for better work conditions worldwide. Many workers today owe a debt to the actions of these brave people on that infamous May Day.
I always smile when recalling my maternal grandmother’s name May Day. While she passed years before I was born, I have been filled with stories of her admirable character that have made her vitally alive in my mind’s eye. I can only hope that I will be remembered as well.
May is here, my friends. We have a wonderful spring month in our grasp. So let us be like Lancelot and Guinevere and live to sing its praises.