Tuesday, May 02, 2006

May Day

When I was at Dora Elementary School in mid to late 50's, May Day was a big deal. I guess our old principal was a pagan at heart or perhaps he had no idea where the festival originated, but it was one of my favorite holidays. We'd have a spring festival at school and spent a great deal of time outside playing softball, red rover, dodgeball and other games. It felt good to be outside after the interminable winter....to have the warm sun on our faces and to smell the honeysuckle and wild rose that bloomed on the banks of horse creek. The lunchroom ladies would cook up a bunch of hotdogs, corndogs and French fries. One of the concession ladies would whip up a batch of cotton candy and Mr. Hocutt, the forth grade teacher would decorate the flagpole in front of the school as the May Pole. I'm not sure what happened to the May Day tradition, and I'm not sure if kids today would even enjoy it, but just thinking about it now puts a smile on my face. I get some daily emails from various sources one of which is a site called the Daily OM and the topic for today was May Day....some of which is as follows: May Day has many colorful and unique customs associated with it and is intimately bound to the Gaelic and pagan fire festival of Beltane. Both celebratory rites take place on the same day and are believed to have originated from the ancient Roman feast of Floralia, which honored Flora, the goddess of spring and flowers, as she returned to the earth to bring the fields back to life with her touch.Traditionally, May Day celebrations began on April 30, when men and women spent the whole night in the woods where they would dance and play games. On the morning of May 1, they would emerge carrying freshly budded green boughs and flowers that were in bloom. A tree was felled and resurrected as the May Pole around which young people would twine ribbons in the hope of becoming entwined with a new love.I'm pretty sure that if Mr. Evans had an inkling that May Day had anything to do with men and women spending the night together out in the woods, he would have nipped it in the bud. I, for one, am thankful he didn't know. Happy May Day.

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