Thursday, April 27, 2006

May Day Baskets

I am not sure how this even came up, my guess is it was on or near May 1st, but I was having coffee with a couple of friends and the subject of May Day came up. I said I could remember as a child how my Mom and I would decorate paper cups then put candy and flowers in them to leave on my friends' doorsteps. I would ring their doorbell and then quickly run away before they would see me, a traditional May Day activity in the small rural town I grew up in. My one friend laughed and said she could remember doing that too for May Day in the small town she grew up in. Then we both noticed that our other friend, who grew up in the city, was looking at the two of us like we had tentacles growing out of our heads. She had never heard of May Day before, which totally surprised me. It never occurred to me that people would not know about this holiday, a celebration to welcome spring and the coming of summer.
May Day is celebrated in many parts of the world. Its roots can be traced back to the Roman Festival, Floralia, and the Celtic celebration, Beltane, also known as Beltain or Bealtaine. Floralia was a five-day festival to honor the Goddess Flora with dancing, ringing bells, May Queens, flowers, and the Maypole. The Beltane ceremony honored the god of the sun and the rebirth of the earth, a celebration of fertility, flowers, sensuality, and delight. Bonfires lit the hillsides and there were games, dancing, feasting, and merrymaking. The Celts also celebrated with the Maypoles. It was said if the dancers wove a perfect pattern with the ribbons, it would be an excellent harvest, but if the ribbons became entangled, the harvest would not be as bountiful.
Other May Day traditions include, decorating windows and doorsteps with flowers to keep out mischievous fairies, filling baskets with flowers to leave on the doorsteps of the sick or elderly to bring good health for the coming year, children hanging baskets on their neighbor's doorknob, knocking and then running away, and in some areas it is said if they get caught, then they are suppose to get a kiss. In some countries it is still a tradition for boys to secretly plant a May pine tree under the window of the girl they love. In England they still choose a Queen and King of May and dance around the Maypole. Since the Puritans did not celebrate May Day, it was never celebrated with as much enthusiasm in the United States. However in some towns, children still make paper baskets, fill them with flowers and candy to leave on their neighbors' doorknobs.
As I mentioned above, I can remember making my May Day baskets out of paper cups. Besides leaving them on your neighbor's doorstep or doorknob, you can place them at the breakfast table to give your family a wonderful surprise to start their day, or leave them on co-workers' desk to brighten up their workday. Whether you traditionally celebrate May Day or not, it is always nice to get a basket full of flowers and candy, but what is even nicer is to not forget this special day and the lore behind it. Happy May Day!

Paper Cup May Day Baskets

You will need:

White paper cups*
Pipe cleaners
Crayons, paint, stickers or material scraps to decorate the cups
Hole punch
Glue (optional)
Scissors (optional)

Take the white paper cup and draw or paint a design on it. You can also apply stickers to decorate the cup or you can cut out different shapes of material to glue to the cup. Once you have your cup designed you need to make the handle. You do this by taking the hole punch and punching two holes across from each other about 1/4" inch from the top of the cup. Take a pipe cleaner and wrap one end through one of the holes two or three times securing it tightly, then take the other end of the pipe cleaner and wrap through the other hole two or three times making sure it is secured tightly. Fill the cup with flowers and or candy.

*You can also buy decorative paper cups and just add the pipe cleaner handle.

1 comment:

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