maypoleGrowing up in Sturgis, South Dakota in the fifties I celebrated a European tradition my Mother learned as a child. She has Russian-German heritage and I believe our tradition is actually Russian, although Beltane is celebrated throughout the Northern Hemisphere as a celebration of summer. In South Dakota where blizzards in April are not uncommon, it was barely feeling like Spring by May!  So for me, May Day associates with Spring.

During the last week of April I would make small construction paper baskets with handles and fill them with candies and flowers. On May 1, Mom would drive me around town and I would hang a basket from the doorknob of a friend’s house, ring the bell and run before they could catch me. If the giver is caught, the tradition is to exchange a kiss. The baskets are delivered nameless so the giver is anonymous.

This was a sweet tradition that I looked forward to. I loved artistic endeavors so the creation of the baskets was a treat and the anonymous delivery of the gifts had an air of excitement to it.

The tradition has its roots in the celebration of Summer. I believe the gifting of sweets and flowers to a loved one signifies gratitude for all that Summer represents; birth, revitalization, flowers and the greening of the land.

This practice, given up once I reached my teens, left me with a feeling of anticipation and sweetness towards Spring and Summer that remains to this day. Thanks, Mom.

May Day
Dance around the May Pole
Flowers in my hair
Ribbons weave a net of silk
Love is in the air

Dance around the May Pole
We laugh in our delight
The snows have left, the flowers bloom
Summer’s in our sight

Dance around the May Pole
Celebrate new birth
Laugh and sing your joy aloud
Send thanks to Mother Earth

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