Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy May Day!

Happy May Day!

The earliest May Day celebrations were in pre-Christian Europe. The Celtic celebration of Beltane and the Walpurgis Night of the Germanic countries are the earliest known festivals on May 1. Archetypal echoes of those events have come down through the ages in schools and churches of Europe. I remember as a school child going outside to wrap a big pole in streamers and crepe paper and then walking/dancing around it in a group.

Also known as:
  • Law Day, in the U.S. The holiday was first proclaimed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958, and written into federal law in 1961.

  • Loyalty Day, originally known as Americanization Day, an official (though not federal) holiday in the U.S. It was first celebrated in 1921. Codified into law in 1958, Pres. Eisenhower proclaimed the first Loyalty Day in 1959.

  • International Workers Day, observed in many countries, is a celebration of the social and economic achievements of the international labor movement. Originally created as a commemoration of the Haymarket protests in Chicago in 1886, the International Socialist Conference, meeting in Amsterdam in 1904, called upon the workers of the world to show solidarity by not working on May 1. The creations of Law Day and Loyalty Day in the U.S. were a backlash against the socialist/communist celebrations of International Workers Day.

  • Walpurgis, derived from pagan customs, but named for Saint Walburga, niece of Saint Boniface, who lived in the eighth century. She was canonized on May 1, 779. In Germany, Walpurgisnacht is known as Hexennacht, meaning Witches' Night, the night from April 30 to May 1. It is the night when allegedly the witches hold a large celebration and await the arrival of Spring.

  • Beltane, a spring fertility festival of pagans and Wiccans, modeled after the traditional Celtic holiday honoring the Sun god Bel, or Belenus, a god imported from Phoenicia.

  • Mange-les-Morts, the feast of the ancestral spirits in the Vodoun (Voodoo) religion.

  • National Love Day, when Czechs gather in public to kiss.

  • It's also the liturgical feast days in the Catholic Church for Saint Joseph the Worker, Saint James the Less, Saint Philip the Apostle, Saint Andeol, Saint Brieuc, Saint Evermaar of Rutten, Saint Jeremiah, Saint Sigismund of Burgundy, Saint Theodulf, Saint Augustin Schoeffer, and Saint Florine.
Go enjoy yourself. Celebrate something.

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