The History of May Day

in Arts and Crafts, Holidays

What is May Day?

Originally May Day started out as a celebration of the approaching summer and nice weather. In 1887, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Union (American Federation of Labor) voted that eight hours would be considered a legal work day from May 1 on. This is how May Day also became known as International Workers’ Day. In many places, including Seattle, people take to the streets to in support of worker and immigrant rights.

What is a Maypole?

Germany, England, and Sweden created the Maypole as a tool for folk dancing in order to celebrate springtime. People started out dancing around a tree and then progressed to a pole; in some places it is a permanent fixture. The dancers weave through each other using ribbon to create beautiful and colorful braids in the air. While some people believe that May Day celebrations are outdated, it does lead to some fun art activities for children while at the same time learning about the importance of a fair work place.

In addition to a Maypole, it is also common to celebrate May Day by creating baskets, filling them with flowers and little treats, and leaving them by a neighbor’s front door. This is a fun activity for older kids.

Materials:

1. Crayons or markers to decorate your basket
2. Construction Paper
3. Stapler or Masking Tape
4. Scissors
5. Hole punch
6. Colorful Ribbon (At least three different colors)

Directions:

  1. Cut your construction paper into a triangle
  2. Decorate your basket
  3. Fold your triangle into a cone
  4. Staple or tape it
  5. Hole punch each side of the cone
  6. Snip the very end off of the cone (about 1/4″)
  7. Cut your ribbon into about 1 yard strands
  8. Thread your ribbon through each hole in the sides of your cone, then through the bottom, leaving enough at the top to hang from a doorknob. Knot the ribbon at the bottom to keep it in place.
  9. Collect flowers to place in your basket

Happy May!