May is here! Unbelievable how fast this year is flying by. It seems like yesterday I was putting away Christmas decorations. And now we are almost half way through the year.
A little history: The first day of May marks the half-way point between the first day of Spring and the Summer Solstice. May Day, dates back to the days of Romans and involved many pagan rituals and ancient customs which were slowly phased out with the arrival of Christianity. In France, it was customary to give a sweet, smelling flower called the “spring of lily of the valley” – which is a symbol of springtime, on May 1st. This tradition started in 1561 when King Charles IX of France received a lily of the valley bouquet as a lucky charm.
Does anyone remember making May Day baskets as children? I remember making them with construction paper that we folded into cones so that we could add flowers and be able to hang them on our neighbors doors with pipe cleaners. Using material and flowers that we found around the house. Nothing fancy. Simple, thoughtful and pretty. Our mother taught us the tradition of secretly leaving baskets filled with flowers on the door of a neighbor on the fist day of May. It was secretly thrilling to leave a gift without getting caught, or having anyone see who had left the bouquet of flowers. Such a powerful lesson for a child to learn about doing nice things for people, not for acknowledgement, but just because it feels good. It’s too bad that this is a fading tradition because it is a wonderful lesson of how fun it is to give (secretly) back.
To quote Francis Quarles “Let all thy joys as the month of May”