Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day


When I was a girl, we used to celebrate May Day. The first one I remember was at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii where my Dad was stationed for two years. In Hawaii, May Day is Lei Day, a day of parades, dancing, and celebration with lots and lots of flowers. I was eight years old and in second grade at Pearl Harbor Elementary when our class prepared dances to celebrate Lei Day.  My group did a Chinese-inspired dance; I was thrilled with my yellow brocade "pajama" costume with the frog closures and Mandarin collar. I couldn't wait for my mother to see me dancing with my tiny, painted fan.

My younger brother's birthday is April 28th and, in those days, women who had just given birth were kept in the hospital for several days afterward to rest up and bond with the new baby in peace (no children allowed in), a luxury which has since been pushed aside for more pragmatic considerations.  Anyway, if he hadn't been such an enchanting baby, I could have been seriously pissed with him, because my mother missed my Lei Day dance and all the pleasure drained away for me when I scanned the audience from the stage but didn't see her face. Luckily for him, our little brother was fascinating and endearing to both me and my older sister, so I didn't hold a grudge. Much.

When we moved back to the Mainland, we also celebrated May Day in Virginia. There, people made tiny baskets of mixed flowers - not much bigger than a matchbox, really - and hung them in secret on their friends' front door knobs. When the recipient awoke in the morning and stepped out for the newspaper, there was a lovely, mysterious basket of posies to say, "Welcome to Spring!"

May Day celebrations still happen in those places but, so far, I haven't found them in California. I want to start the tradition here, too. So, here's the modern, digital version of a May basket for my blog readers. Welcome to Spring!  And thanks for reading.


8 Comments:

Blogger Greg said...

Happy May day and happy Spring. Seems more like summer this week.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013  
Blogger nancy namaste said...

I didn't celebrate May Day with dancing around the May Pole, although I remember doing that as a kid. But my friend Judy and I went down to Pesdacero this morning to have green chili and artichoke soup at Duarte's. And the best French bread in the WORLD (well, SF world at least). Then we stopped at a beach along the way home and contemplated the ocean, the fog just off shore keeping this area fresh and cool and thanked the world for such a lovely day. Photos to follow on my blog plus a recipe for green chili soup.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013  
Anonymous Traci Parker said...

I celebrate in Colorado, mostly alone. When I was a kid, my mom and I and my cousin would make up beautiful baskets with flowers and candy. She drove me around to make my deliveries. My friends were all puzzled but grateful. May Day, May poles, flowers, Spring yippee, never took off around me. I still bring one to my best friend, my gay cousin, every year. Thank you so much for the reminder and Happy May Day to you. Your yellow outfit sounds adorable.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

I never did the doorknob treat. Sounds so sweet! I was too busy being a kid in Hawaii.
And, Zoomie, it was Pearl Harbor Kai Elementary School. My bus driver called it Kai School.
God, those Quonset huts!!!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

And... (she adds a day later) it was originally called Pearl Harbor Elementary School; the Kai was added later. You must have gone there before the change. I apologize for my "correcting" you. :)

Thursday, May 02, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, two words. Global. Warming. :-) I, for one, welcome the warmer weather.

Nancy, I vaguely remember a May pole, too - perhaps in Berkeley when I was in fourth grade?

Traci, welcome! I hope you keep doing those baskets and surprising people. I'm sure they were thrilled and, who knows, maybe they will enlarge the tradition.

Cookiecrumb, they must have built a second PH Elem, one that was closer to the kai (ocean)? In any case, I do remember those quonset huts. We lived in one of those in Alameda, too, once we returned to the Mainland.

Friday, May 03, 2013  
Blogger Diane said...

I love how certain events trigger stories like this. What lovely memories you have of different May Day celebrations. Where I grew up in Michigan, I barely remember any acknowledgment of the day, but what I do remember are the photos of mom as the May Day queen when she was young. Lovely flower photo.

Friday, May 03, 2013  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Diane, sounds like there were May Day celebrations in MI back in the day, but they had faded by the time you came along... We need to bring them back!

Saturday, May 04, 2013  

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