Today is May Day! People have been celebrating the first of May for hundreds of years, but for two very different reasons. Our modern observances have both “green roots” and “red roots.” For some people, May Day is a celebration of spring—a tradition that comes from the Pagan festival of Beltane. (These are the “green” traditions.) For others, May Day is a celebration of workers’ rights, marked by rallies, parades, and marches. In 1958, President Eisenhower declared that the second type of May Day celebrations were communist (hence, the name “red roots”), and created a new holiday called Law Day to take its place.
One of the most popular May Day traditions is the maypole dance, which was created by the ancient druids of the British Isles. During the Beltane festival, people performed a circle dance around a pole. The dance evolved over the years to include the ribbons and standard weaving patterns we still use today.
Celebrate the rich history of May Day by attending a May Day festival, listening to traditional maypole music, or bringing a bouquet of May Day flowers to a loved one!