A May Day by Any Other Name …

Although May 1st may pass without notice by many of us in the US—probably because we don’t have the day off—the day has a long history of celebrating Spring, and in some places, Summer. The May Day holiday goes by many names with varying methods of celebration around the world. Here is a brief list of a few of them.

  • Walpurgis Night: A celebration of Spring of Germanic origin, which includes music and bonfires on May Day eve.
  • Beltane: The Celtic festival of fire and fertility, also beginning on May Day eve.
  • The Catholic Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.
  • May Day: Traditional European folk festivals celebrated with the crowning of the May Queen and dancing around the Maypole.
  • International Workers’ Day: A celebration of the labor movement through parades and organized demonstrations. (The Occupy Movement has several protests planned for today throughout the US. Europeans are protesting economic austerity measures.)

And because I love old photos, I perused the Library of Congress website to share a bit of history with you.

May Day parade/demonstration, 1900 New York—Library of Congress (I believe the banner says, Org. Aug. 7th 1900, so this is probably May 1901.)

Children at a May Day festival in Battery Park, NY, 1908—Library of Congress

May Day Parade, NY 1910—Library of Congress

A May Day "exercise" at Sweet Briar College in Virginia—Library of Congress (There was no exact date listed. Anyone want to take a guess?)

Here’s to a Happy May Day!

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One Response to A May Day by Any Other Name …

  1. QNPoohBear says:

    Great photos! The last one is probably from the 1920s but I can’t pinpoint an exact date. 20s is beyond my area of expertise.

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