Throughout much of the northern hemisphere, May 1st is given to celebrating May Day. In the United States, the most prominent tradition is the hanging of baskets of blossoms on the doors of our friends and neighbors, often anonymously. (For simple ideas on making May Day containers, see Nicola’s piece in the Spring 2011 edition of RotH, Spring Flower Crafting.)
The history behind May Day is rich and complex, and our simple celebrations on this day reflect ties to ancient beliefs. It is no wonder that the beginning of May has inspired people of different cultures to create symbolic gestures like our modern May Day baskets. In the past several weeks in the central US, the lush flowers on trees are unfolding into displays of color that seem all the more vibrant after a long winter full of neutral grays and browns. Neighbors are meeting more often outdoors, while cleaning out garden beds and enjoying the warmth of the sun. Children are playing in the golden evening light a bit longer before bedtime, asking for a few more minutes of time running in the grass. Even those of us who have opened doors today to a fresh coat of snow can still see the tips of the daffodils, and feel their promise.
Our May Day traditions are rooted in the transition of the natural world. We have emerged from the internal quiet pace of the winter into a season full of noise and color and light. When we reach out to our friends and neighbors with simple gifts of blossoms, we are sharing not only the beauty of the season, but also an invitation to emerge. An opportunity to come out of our homes and have shared experiences among the greening trees.
Perhaps what we are trying to convey with our handmade baskets of blossoms is just this: renewal is what we can always count on. That all that is within us has the power to emerge, even after a long winter of lying dormant. Happy May Day.
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