When I was growing up, May 1st was May Day, an innocent day where we made baskets of Styrofoam cups, pipe cleaners, construction paper – and filled with popcorn and candy and sometimes flowers. We would spend time creating these baskets while making a list of who we would leave them for. We would walk around the neighborhood hanging them on the doors knobs of those we wanted to surprise. We would sometimes knock as we left – sometimes we would simply hand them to the receiver instead of leaving it as a surprise. It was a day of innocence and celebration of spring. Seemed the only thing missing was dancing around a may pole with ribbon and music.
I don’t recall when that tradition faded away. It faded not because we grew older but because people stopped doing it. It stopped being an excuse to celebrate spring in school which was sad because, in Iowa, some winters needed a good celebration of spring once it has ended. But the tradition ended – and there are times when I think back on it and wonder if it truly happened or if it was some nostalgic day dream. Nope. It was true. Hell, NPR did a program on it today.
It wasn’t until I was in college when I learned the true meaning of May Day. May Day celebration in the long ago past was about celebrating the fertility of the season – celebrating the end of winter and the start of spring when things would start growing and multiplying. The latter was the key because it was also when the kids would pair up and go have sex in nature.
I’ve told the story before about the amazing Professor I had for an English Lit class. We were reading the poem The Good Morrow and talking about what it meant. When people were missing the May Day reference and missing the tradition, he shouted about how it was the day the boys and girls hooked up and went to fuck in the meadows. “SUCKling CUNT-ry PLEASURES, people! They are out having sex on May Day!”
In that moment I recalled the part of the May Day past that I always forgot. Kids were also supposed to use the may day baskets to express their intentions to the person they had a crush on. You hung it on the door, rang the bell, then run. If caught, a kiss was exchanged.
Funny how time made the true may day tradition into something chaste.
While the rest of the world today has the day off to honor labor, I want the day off to go off in the meadow and fuck. That sounds like a better use of the day.
Forget the may day basket. I’d rather celebrate the original intention of the day.
I wonder, by my troth, what thou and IDid, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then?But sucked on country pleasures, childishly?Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den?’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be.If ever any beauty I did see,Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.And now good-morrow to our waking souls,Which watch not one another out of fear;For love, all love of other sights controls,And makes one little room an everywhere.Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown,Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears,And true plain hearts do in the faces rest;Where can we find two better hemispheres,Without sharp north, without declining west?Whatever dies, was not mixed equally;If our two loves be one, or, thou and ILove so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.