Inspired by Kari's beautiful video about making dandelion crowns
, I decided to look into the practice of making floral crowns, wreaths and May baskets to celebrate May Day, which will be on Saturday and marks the mid-point between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice.
It turns out that the earliest May Day celebrations commemorated Flora (above), the Roman goddess of flowers and spring, with days of games, theatrical presentations and floral-wreath adornments. The Maypole and its dance also began in Rome, when pine trees were carried in processions to the temple to celebrate spring. During the early Floralia festivals, animals were set free and beans were scattered to encourage fertility.
Here are some of my modern-day friends wearing their crowns and wreaths.
I have very simple instructions for making floral wreaths on my blog, Slow Family Online
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. Does anyone here make and deliver May baskets?
Happy May Day!
Painting: Flora, by Louise Abbéma, 1913. In Public Domain. Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman.