Every First Day of May is celebrated as May Day or Traditional May Day to mark the arrival of Summer.
Related: Other National Days Celebrated on May 1st:
Why May Day?
May Day is an ancient public holiday to celebrate the arrival of First Day of Summer in European Culture. In United States, the European who settled, started celebrating the Day where May Baskets are made and left at someone’s doorstep. May baskets are small baskets filled with flower. They ring the calling bell and run away. It is celebrated differently in different regions. As the time evolves, so do the celebrations.
The reason for celebrations in the United States is still unclear and we observe the day as “May Day” with “Labor Day” being recognized in First Monday of September.
These confusions did not derail us from celebrating as most of the Americans still consider this day to be another day for a drink.
How can we observe May Day?
Knowing the differences
Traditional May Day: Traditional May Day is celebrated on May 1 To mark the first day of Summer and the end of Spring Holidays. Though the founder or the origin of this day is unknown, the history of observance dated back to the Ancient era with no clarity about from which civilization or Empire this day is being proclaimed.
May Day or Labor Day or International Worker’s Day: The Day is celebrated to honor the workers, labor activists and all socialists and communists. The Day was chosen as a Memorial Day for the Haymarket Square riot that took place on May 4, 1886. To prevent excess working and abuses, the labor workers engaged in a peaceful rally insisting 40 working hours in a week. An anonymous person threw a bomb that led the police to counter attack on workers leading to the death of seven police officers and four civilians with severe fatalities. Government suffered severe backlash and it had a significant part to the establishment of Labor Day or International Worker’s Day. The Eight-hour-work Day is implemented after rallies and strikes throughout the United States on May 1. The movement was a huge success with about half a million people came forward and sang the anthem “Eight hour”. To commemorate the accomplishment, a day is recognized as May Day.
Walpuris Night: Walpuris Night is celebrated on the night of April 30 to early hours of May 1 as an international Observance to celebrate the canonization of Saint Walburga. Though it is unclear when Walburga died. Her feast day is observed on February 25. Though May 1 is not her feast day it was the day when she was declared saint by the then Bishop of Rome, Pope Adrian II. This day is celebrated still but as May Eve.
As the three observance falls on the same day, it is not evident who celebrated what. However, as the time evolves all these three different festivals are celebrated with same Name “May Day”. The rituals followed are merged and some are still in practice and some are not.
Whatever, let’s celebrate May Day with our favorite feast. Share your celebrations with pictures using the Hashtags #MayDay and #TraditionalMayDay on social media.
Read the incidents related to the implementation of Eight-hour-working protocol. It is a sin to forget the workers who sacrifices their lives to implement this policy. Otherwise, we now won’t have a work-life balance schedule. Share your thoughts and facts about International Worker’s Day using the hashtags #LaborDay and #InternationalWorker’sDay.
HOW IS MAY DAY CELEBRATED IN YOUR COUNTRY? Post it in the comment Section. Let’s explore the different diasporic observances. Your comments will be added in the interesting facts column with proper appreciation.
Interesting facts about May Day:
The much interesting fact about this day is “We are celebrating without knowing what for we are celebrating”.
Let’s know about some World-wide traditional way of Celebrations on this day,
In Portugal, it is celebrated as Dia das Bruxas (Witches’ Day). A flower named “Maias” is placed in every corner of the house as there is the belief that the flower is capable for preventing bad omens or witches, evil eyes. The tradition dated back to the Jesus time. When joseph, father of Christ fled to Egypt to protect Jesus from Herod, it was said that Portuguese broom, a flowering plant was found at the door of house where Jesus was kept. It was from that that day where Maias or Portuguese broom was kept at every door.
In Estonia, May Day or Labor Day is celebrated throughout the night of April 30 to early hours of May 1 along with Walpurgis Night celebrations.
In Italy, it is celebrated since centuries. The day itself is claimed to be originated from Roman Empire. However, no documentation found in support of the claims. The day is celebrated for welcoming the Summer.
In Turkey, May Day is officially declared as holiday in 2009 only though it was celebrated from 1923.
In England, it includes the crowing of May Queen, a personification of May Day Holiday. A woman or a girl is portrayed as May Queen who walks Infront of the May Parade. She begins the celebrations and dancing ,speeches addressing the Youth and Springtime is carried out.
In Poland, May 1 is declared as a state holiday and the celebrations on focused on Labor Day events. Thus, Poland is one of the countries to celebrate May Day as Labor Day. It does not have any traces of events that coincides with Traditional May Day or Walpuris Night.
In Finland, This May Day celebration along Walpuris Night is one of four biggest Celebrations in the country. As the day of Walpuris and May Day or Labor Day coincides with each other, Considering the public holiday both the festivals are celebrated with Huge traditional events. It is to be noted that both are different days celebrated for different means. It is just the same dates and a public Holiday that has made the traditions to merge. Like Estonia, the celebrations begin on the evening of April 30 and continues till early hours of May 1st. Consumption of Sima, a low-level alcoholic and soft drink, Mead, a fermented alcoholic honey beverage and sweet funnel cakes are one of the traditional way of celebrations.
In Scotland, It is one of the traditional festivals since centuries. The much-elated celebration starts with festivals and rallies and people climb Arthur’s seat, an ancient volcano in Edinburg and wash their faces for life long beauty. Naked Students sometimes run into a sea during sunrise on May 1.
In United States, A basket with flowers named “May basket” will be kept outside someone’s house. They ring the bell and disappear. Another famous celebration is Overlooking at the Mississippi River at dawn. It is to be noted that Labor Day is a federal holiday in U.S that is observed on the First Monday of September month to recognize the American Labor Movement. The exact reason for May Day observance is unknown and it was European Settlers in America who introduced this day to Americans. We follow what the Europeans did.
In Bulgaria, people make some noises to scare lizards and snakes as the day is to protect people from snakes and lizards. pregnant women observe tis day with ritual so that their offspring’s do not catch any illness due to evil eyes.
May Day is celebrated in only some parts of Canada like British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario.
In Wales, celebrated as “Calan Mai”.It starts with Bonfires, dancing and decorating houses with flowers.
In Hawaii, celebrated as Lei Day.
In Belgium, it’s a public holiday since 1948.
Labor Day Vs May Day in United States:
Labor Day – federal holiday from 1894 to honor the accomplishment of social works towards the development of United States Worker Union.
May Day– By the early months of 1886, The May 1 Day was emerged as an alternative day for recognizing the labor workers as the constitution passed a resolution with respect to Eight-hour-work effective from May 1 ,1886. But there was disagreement in the Labor union and the then president Grover Cleveland suggested the Labor Day to be in September as the May 1 observance would become a commemoration day to the Haymarket riot that would strengthen socialists’ movement. He then formally adopted September 1 as Labor Day in 1894 instead of May 1. And United States started observing May 1 as “Law Day” or “Loyal Day” in the mid 1950 as an unofficial day. Meaning, it is not proclaimed as a National Holiday by the Federal Government.
History of May Day:
The history has different versions. There is a lot of confusions with respect to origin and celebrations of this day. To be said exactly, this day is celebrated without concrete reason especially in the United States. As some of the countries celebrates, we do as well. Some of the college’s celebrations are renowned, and May Parades are common on this day.
May Day is an ancient public holiday being observed in European Culture. The day marks the First Day of Summer. It is either celebrated on May 1 or First Monday of May. Nevertheless, most of the countries celebrates On May 1.
This is the traditional May Day celebrated right from the Roman Republic era.
May Day or Labor Day and Walpuris Night is also celebrated on the Same Day. But both are for different occasions and totally different from traditional Roman era May Day.
The earliest traces of May Day were being observed with a festival named Floralia, festival of Flora, which was celebrated for the Roman Goddess of Flower. The festival was observed from April 27 to May 3 until the Roman Era. The celebration events start with theatrical performances and concluded with a sacrifice ritual to Flora, the Goddess of Flower.
Later around the 2nd Century AD, it was celebrated as a month-long festival and the then government allocated a substantial amount of money to cover the thirty-day festival. It was then concluded with banquets and offerings. The festival was flourished during the rule of Roman Emperor, Commodous.
Later under the rule of Roman Emperor Constantine, the celebrations were suppressed and became a low- observed festivals with less practices. Through about to become not in practice, it was briefly restored during the reigns of Arcadius and Honorius. However, Constantine did not value the celebrations and were stopped once for all during his tenure.
After 1 May 870, the May Day is started celebrated as Walpuris Night, that commemorated the official canonization of Saint Walpura. Walburga was an Anglo-Saxon missionary and she was officially declared to be a saint. Though still this day is celebrated in some of the countries, the May Day coincides with the same date and outsmarted the feast day celebration. Even some rituals are continuing, People still thinks that the rituals are meant for Traditional May Day.
Traditional May Day, Labor Day or International Workers Day and Walpuris Night falls on the same Day. But still its unclear on what occasion this day is being celebrated in the United States. This has become a Day of celebrations without occasion. As there is no Separate Labor Day in some of the other countries, they mix the rituals and celebrate with a singular name. But as we have a separate day for Labor Day Observance that falls on September, the concept of recognizing May Day for Labor workers would become more meaningless. The Labor Day is an historic commemoration for those who paved the way for the American Worker Movement and for the socialists and activists who had contributed a lot to United States Achievement and Development. Thus, unlike Labor Day, the Traditional May Day is not of historic importance. But in several colleges, this day is being recognized.
Thus, as in other countries, this festival is not given priority in our country.