Saturday, May 01, 2010

May Day

May Day
"first of May," mid-15c.. Accounts of merrymaking on this date are attested from mid-13c. Synonymous with "communist procession" from at least 1906. The May Queen seems to be a Victorian re-invented tradition.
"distress call," 1927, from Fr. m'aider, shortening of venez m'aider "come help me!" 
~ Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

May Day  
  1. May 1, observed in the United States, Canada, and parts of Western Europe in celebration of the coming of spring.
  2. May 1, observed as a holiday especially in socialist countries in honor of labor and labor organizations.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Today is May Day. As the definitions imply, the First Day of May can be observed and celebrated differently by different folk. I remember from elementary school the May Day Dance my class (kindergarten, was it?) did a round a pole (May Pole?). each of us holding the end of a large colored ribbon until the pole was decorated.

Thankfully, in the various roles I have played in my life, I have never had to broadcast mayday as a distress call.

My father was a union organizer. I have marched in a May Day parade or two in honor of the proletariat and labor organizations. If I had the energy and knew where one was, I'd march again today and maybe play and sign this song:

There is Power (written by Joe Hill)

Closer to home, on a very wet Churchill Downs track here in Louisville, Super Savor splashed to win the 136th Kentucky Derby while about 165,000 race fans packed the Downs to watch. I wasn't one of them.

Very close to home, 65 years ago this May 1st my mother, Katherine Hertle, married my father, Robert Lawrence Temple.

Happy anniversary, Mom; I wish that Dad were still with us.


  1. I was May Queen once, when I was about 9 years old. I blogged about it here

  2. I'm happy that your mom and dad married and brought you into the world, Nick.

    I remember making May Day baskets out of colored construction paper. We would pick flowers from our yards, put them in the little baskets, hang them on someone's door, ring the doorbell, then run and hide.

  3. Nick: I was a May Queen too although I don't have the photos to hand. I also remember dancing round the Maypole back in the 50s ...

    Like you, I wish my Dad was here still,too.

  4. Labour Day here is today, 03 May and yes, there are marches and protests outside Government House today over the selling of the State assets. So...our premier has scarpered off overseas to an "important meeting". Yeah right, she didn't want to cop the flack about issues that have a very important meaning to us worker ants.

    Belated Happy May Day, Nick. Might just dance a round a Maypole today...