The earliest May Day celebrations commemorated Flora (above), the Roman goddess of flowers and spring. So it’s fitting that May 1st, which marks the mid-point between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, be celebrated with flowers in baskets and in pretty wreaths around the head.
Wreaths can be made with real or synthetic flowers, and simple crowns can be made with construction paper. To make a floral wreath, make a circular form out of a coat hanger or other wire and make sure it fits the intended head. Tape each flower on by the stem with floral or a dark-colored masking tape wound around the base a couple of times.
Ribbons can also be tied on to hang at intervals. To do this, cut and double a length of ribbon, so that each side is as long as you want it to hang. Make a loop at the top. Place the loop against the wire with a couple of inches to spare at the top and pull the two ends through the loop to secure the the ribbon.
Look for upcoming instructions to make a very easy paper floral wreath.
May baskets are another tradition from a bygone time. They summon an era when children used to fill baskets or other containers (even simple paper cones) with freshly picked flowers and leave them on neighbors’ doorknobs or doorsteps as a surprise. Since May Day often falls on a school day, we varied the tradition by bringing a basket of flowers to school and giving the basket or individual flowers to different teachers. Some people fill May baskets with candy.
In Hawaii, May Day is also known as Lei Day.
This delightful video comes from Kari at Active Kids Club and features children making a fresh crown of dandelions. This joyful activity is perfect for May Day or any day when the spring, the outside, and a mood of celebration beckons.
Look for a future post about the tradition of Maypoles.
Painting: Flora, by Louise Abbéma, 1913. In Public Domain. May Day Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman. Video: Kari Svenneby