As a pagan mom we love to do small things (and not so small) to honor the original seasonal holidays. May Day wasn’t originally my favorite holiday but I have always reveled in the first days of warmth and return of color from blooming flowers. Even now that I live in a warm and sunny climate I still love the sense of spring. When my daughter was 4 yrs. old May Day landed on a Saturday so we decided to celebrate by throwing a May Day party. An all ages party where everyone could party!
I wanted it to reflect May Days origins from small village festivals. So first, we decided we wanted to be able to invite lots of people. People we work with, people we rarely see, people we have lost touch with, people who are by our sides every day, people we want to get to know better, their friends, because isn’t it great to meet new people! The first thing that came up was food. If half the people showed up there was going to be no way to provide enough for everyone. Now I cringe when I see the word “potluck” but this seemed like the only route to go. I still refuse to use that word though, instead I just ask everyone to bring a dish or beverage to share. Yes, it’s a “potluck” but I still can’t use that word. I did decide not to tell anyone what to bring. Instead we tell them to bring whatever works best for them. A bag of chips to frog legs, it’s all good.
That ended up working better than I ever dreamed. Over the years we have had people bring the most wonderful foods that I would never have thought of. The table is never empty and often you will hear people sharing recipes. It's a mystery but it always works out.
Next, it’s May Day, so there needs to be a May Pole, right? The pole was easy; we made it out of a bamboo stalk from our yard. The ribbons, another story. Buying fabric long enough for a 10’ foot pole was going to be expensive. In the end, I scavenged thrift stores for cotton sheets. Bingo! I found pale pink floral ones. My daughter and I spent the day tearing them into strips and dyeing them rainbow colors. A fabric flower chain from a craft store glued on top. Presto! A beautiful May Pole for less than $10.
My next consideration was that there would be a lot of kids who didn’t know each other. I wanted to eliminate the awkwardness and shuffling feet. This was solved by putting out a craft table where they could start doing something when they arrived. Quickly, kids of all ages were laughing, playing and thinking up new games to play. The first year I had vines and flowers to make floral wreaths. They were beautiful but needless to say they boys were not quite as in to it. The second year, no one really wanted to make one. Everyone was much more into making sand paintings with the colored sand I had put out. Now come up with a new craft every year. I know it’s a good when the adults are doing it too.
My original vision of our May Day was of children and adults, with beautiful flower wreaths on their heads, dancing gracefully around the Maypole. However, most of our friends hadn’t even seen a May pole before, nevertheless know how to dance around it. Plus, trying to explain to young kids how to weave in out before their attention span is roving back to the treehouse, also, isn’t happening. So we let go and everyone just goes for it.! It’s pure chaos, but in that chaos, it’s also pure fun! The swirling and getting tangled up with each other creates lots of laughter. Maybe someday it will look like my original vision but it doesn’t matter if it does. Each year is perfect in itself.
This year was our 4th May Day celebration. It has become a favorite tradition, not only of our family, but many of our friends. Our yard is full of laughter, old friends and new, all day and then settles into night around the fire pit, until the clock passes into another day, kids asleep on laps.
I remember how good it felt one day when I overheard some friends talking, “ Are you going to May Day?”
Do you have a May Day tradition to share?