May Day!


I decided to search out the meaning of the word Mayday; what I learned was surprising.

Mayday can be a distress signal originating from the French “m’aidez”, pronounced [mayDAY] meaning help me. 

May 1 is a cross-quarter day; there are four of them; they occur halfway between each equinox, the two days each year when the length of night and day are equal; this usually happens March twentieth and September twenty-second.

Celebrating the Beltane Festival in Ireland on the first day of May represented the beginning of summer and open pasturing; two bonfires were set and the cattle were driven between them to protect them from disease; only after this passing were the cows allowed to enter the summer pastures. The wrapping of a tall pole in ribbons and dancing ’round braiding them, is one of the Beltane traditions as well as the cutting of green boughs.

In October of 1884 the Trade and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada decreed that on May 1, 1886 the eight-hour workday would be implemented. On that day in in 1886, in Chicago, Illinois, anywhere between three hundred and five hundred thousand American workers went on strike. It was not until 1916 after many years of protests and strikes, that the eight-hour workday became law. I am ashamed to say this happened one hundred years ago and I knew nothing about it. History is important to know, vital to an appreciation of the efforts of our ancestors.

Now that I’ve thoroughly researched the many ways the first day of May is important, I will describe my own May Day memories.

Mother and Mama, my grandmother, made my twin sisters beautiful dresses in white with white lace, their crinolines held out their skirts, beautiful but itchy I do remember. I guess I had on a dress like this, too; only eighteen months apart, we three were frequently dressed alike; dresses all made from the same bolt of cloth. What I remember was watching my sweet sisters carrying baskets of flower petals. My beautiful little first grade sweethearts, walked hand in hand leading the rest of Crayton Elementary to the Maypole decorated with flowers and beautiful colored ribbons. I must have been in third grade. I was part of the dance; we held onto the ribbons and skipped over and under, the other students also raising their ribbons over and under. As an apprentice in this process, we were taught how to braid the ribbons around the Maypole. It was not easy; I remember I was unsure that I would be able to go under and over correctly; but it all worked out somehow. It was amazing to me what we were able to do together to create such a lovely sight; the dance ending in the pole wrapping. Every May Day, I remember this moment in time. I also remember Mother there; Daddy surely was there, as this day was filmed by him; Daddy always recorded our accomplishments and celebrations. He was not in the films very often; but that was fine with him; his goal was to capture his girls in time. Thanks, Daddy; I love you for your dedication to preserving our past.

Dear Lord, I long to dance around a Maypole once more. I’d love to see my baby sisters as they were, sweet, innocent, precious, and full of life. Tears run down my cheeks as I think back. One sister, is now dancing around a heavenly Maypole. Dear Lord, I hope Daddy is preserving those memories so that I can relive them when we reunite in our Heavenly Celebration; life full and complete in Your Kingdom eternally.

I miss ya’ll. I love you. My loss is comforted by these precious memories that will live on. Amen


I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud 
By William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.





Apprentice  can mean a beginner, a novice


3 thoughts on “May Day!”

  1. Beautiful memories , Jan !

    Margaret Smith, ABR®, CRS®, GRI®, SRES®
    Coldwell Banker Caine
    Cell & Text: (864) 270-1108

    “Celebrating 40 years in Greenville Real Estate”

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