An important day with a very long history is coming up next week — and no, we don't mean Star Wars Day. We're talking about May Day, or May 1, which has been celebrated in one way or another throughout history.
For those who don't know, May Day is roughly the midpoint between spring and summer. Depending on where you live, this may be the time that you break out your shorts, start seeing flowers bloom, or switch from hot lattes to cold brew. That's worth celebrating, no?
May Day has its roots in the ancient Greek and Roman springtime festivals which celebrated nature's bounty. It's also believed that May Day was derived from the Pagan sabbat Beltane, and it's easy to see why: Both holidays feature maypole dances (in which people weave ribbons around a decorated pole) and celebrate summer's approach. Although Beltane has continued to be a significant sabbat among modern-day Pagans, May Day has become completely secular, so it's really just about spending time outside with your community.
Quite a few European countries — including Germany, Finland, and Sweden — have declared May Day a national holiday, and communities often hold their own festivals, complete with maypole dances. If you're in the U.K. during a May Day celebration, you may even be able to catch Morris dancers, folk dancers who usually perform with bells and swords. (Oh, and the bank holiday International Worker's Day is sometimes referred to as "May Day," but that's an entirely different celebration than the May Day we're talking about.)
Of course, May Day isn't as big of a deal stateside, but that doesn't mean it's completely overlooked. Morris dance troupes across the country will still perform, and the occasional maypole dance will pop up. Hawaii has even renamed May Day "Lei Day," in honor of the state's tradition of making the floral necklaces.
There are all sorts of ways to celebrate May Day, but we recommend going the cold brew route and talking a stroll through a pretty park. Whatever you do, just know that if you see anyone wearing a folksy outfit and floral crown on Monday, they didn't get lost on their way to Coachella — it's just May Day.
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