Pipestone County Star - 04-24-14
When I was a child, May Day was always a day I got a lot of exercise. The night before, I would plant little flowers in small red cups, probably more than a dozen. In the morning, usually first thing, I would run to my friends’ houses and leave a flower on the doorstep before ringing the bell and running away. If my friends could catch me, we would laugh hilariously and hug, though technically kissing was the rule. I have no idea where this tradition started – neither does my mother. It was just something we did. Sometimes my friends were ready for me, sometimes they had forgotten. And sometimes, I would be lucky enough to be at home when my own doorbell rang and I would get to do the chasing.
Do you remember anything crazy you did to celebrate spring when you were a child?
May Day began as Walpurgis Night in Germany or Beltaine in the Gaelic countries. Though it was never technically Christianized, the holiday itself still remains though has lost most of its religious overtones (celebrating fertility) in the cultures who still celebrate it. Now it’s mostly associated with dancing around a maypole or crowning a May Queen, though it has other meanings in different countries.
In Britain, May Day is not always held on May 1st. Instead, the first Monday in May is declared a Bank Holiday, which everyone has off, and the celebrations usually involve a lot of Morris dancing. Many of the smaller villages crown May Queens and set up a May pole to dance around with colorful ribbons. It’s also traditional to dress in red and white and, in some Scottish towns, to ensure a bonfire burns throughout the night to welcome the coming summer (this can involve a lot of alcohol and hangovers come the next day).
In France, thanks to Charles IX, people give each other sprigs of Lily of the Valley and the government allows groups to sell them tax-free.
In Germany, things are kept anonymous. The night before (April 30), it is traditional to delivery roses, hearts, or trees wrapped in streamers to the house of the object of one’s affection. Since this is done during the night, it is up to the admirer to admit they were responsible or to leave it secret. Our cups of flowers must have originated from this tradition – I can’t find anything else that’s even close.
Bulgaria celebrates Irminden instead of May Day and the holiday is associated with protection from snakes. According to legend, the King of Snakes appears on Irminden and so villagers light fires then jump over them, making sounds to scare the snakes away.
In Hawaii, May Day is called Lei Day and has been a celebration of island culture since the 1920s. It even has its own song, composed by Leonard “Red” and Ruth Hawk: “May Day is Lei Day in Hawai’I” which has become a popular hula dance for the holiday.
I think I shall wear a lei to work on May 1st, to celebrate the spring and to indulge my wish to go to Hawaii. Will any of you do something silly to celebrate the coming of warmer weather?
Upcoming Events: April 26th at 2:00, we will be hosting Michael Eckers, who is an avid historian. Michael will be talking about the Eighth Air Force during World War II, the group charged with bombing Germany and defeating the German Luftwaffe. Join us for this free event – if you are a history buff, don’t miss it!
PAFL Update: Pipestone Area Friends of the Library is looking for members – anyone who is a friend to Meinders Library is welcome to join! The Friends group works hard to promote the library, raise money for projects, and organize their yearly book sale, in addition to the HUGE amount of support they provide throughout the year. Call for the date of their next meeting.
PAFL will be having their annual meeting on May 17th at 2:00 and will be hosting David Rambow, who is working with the Pipestone County Historical Society on a World War I project to catalogue all the veterans who enlisted in World War I in Pipestone County. Another not-to-miss event for anyone interested in history and Pipestone County veterans in particular
If you have questions or have a book you’d like to reserve or renew, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (507) 825-6714. The hours for Meinders Library are Monday through Thursday from 10 AM – 8 PM, and Friday and Saturday from 10 AM – 5 PM. Meinders Community Library is located at 1401 7th Street SW, on the south side of the high school.