Happy, Blessed May! Our spirits are light and free as summer begins to unfold.
May 1 was an ancient festival celebrated in pre-Christian European pagan cultures, with the Roman Floralia, the German Walpurgis Night and Gaelic Beltane, most commonly held on the eve, April 30. May 1 was the first day of summer, and the summer solstice in June was Midsummer.
For many of us, May Day may be remembered for the traditions of dancing around the maypole and crowning the Queen of May and the giving of “May baskets,” small baskets of sweets or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbors’ doorsteps.
Since the 18th century, many Roman Catholics have observed May Day with various devotions to Mary. May 1 is a feast day of the Catholic patron saint of workers, Mary’s husband, St Joseph the Worker. It is not surprising then that in the late 19th century, May Day was chosen as the date for International Workers’ Day.
I find it interesting to think of this connection between the unfolding of summer and the celebration of workers. The busy-ness of the time of year as the ground is tilled and planted and construction which was stilled during the cold months is resumed gave an excitement to life. The longer days allowed for more productive hours and the importance and extent of the work in front of the people was most evident.
The thrill of the anticipation of a prosperous year and the clarity of the tasks ahead filled the air in the May Day celebrations. As individuals and as a faith family may we be filled with this same energy today. May our lives be filled with joy and industry. May we have a joy-filled and blessed May.