May Day as a festival tradition has pretty much fallen by the wayside as a spring tradition here in America. As some have written, perhaps it is the loss of innocence as a nation the time when the population celebrated a more gentle arrival of spring.
I am by no means an authority on the subject, but I do recall that May Day has its beginnings in ancient agrarian culture as the celebration of the start of the planting season, the warming of the northern hemisphere and lengthening of days.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries it seems there were two key components, a basket and a pole. May Day sometimes called May Basket Day was celebrated by the anonymous hanging of handmade baskets filled with flowers (generally wild), candies and trinkets. The basket was hung on the recipient’s door in upmost secrecy lest the identity of the giver be given away.
The pole was the center of, and some cases greatly choreographed, dances or celebrations. Ribbons affixed to the top of the pole are wrapped around the pole by participants circling the pole. My Mother has told stories of when she was a young girl of participating in such. Dressed in heavily starched white dresses, young girls carrying white baskets filled with flower petals and holding on to the ribbon streamers coming from the top of the pole. Would promenade around the pole with half the participants going around in the opposite direction so that every other young lady was headed in the opposite direction, as each meet one another they dodge each other in and in and out fashion which served to braid the streamers and as the whole assemblage circled the pole the pole was incased by the fluffy braided ribbons. As each girl reached the base of the pole their ribbon was tied off and they scattered the flower petals. I am most sure that this was a grand spectacle too witness. Add to this a marching band play accompaniment and the whole community/town turned out to view I am sure it full of ceremony.
Well today you will find none of this pomp in my post but I have chosen to celebrate May Day in my own way. I am attaching a snippet of a video I shot this morning with a lone Whippoorwill heralding the day with a chorus of birds and frogs (in the distant background) and all held within the rhythm of an early morning shower.