How do you celebrate May Day? Do you dance around a pole, intertwining streamers? Or do you scratch your head and say “What the hell is May Day?” Wikipedia says May 1st is International Workers Day, and celebrated in the Northern Hemisphere as a spring festival and (usually) a public holiday.
In the little town of Glidden, Iowa (at least in the 1960’s), May Day wasn’t celebrated by pole dancing (Hey, not that kind of pole dancing!) or days off from school. Instead, we would make several little May baskets, and deliver them around town to our friends’ houses.
Our May baskets were much less skillfully made than those you’ll find with a Google image search. They were made from colored construction paper, held together with a few staples or glue. We then filled them with small candies and cheap little trinkets, and delivered tem to our friends after school. You know, since it wasn’t a public holiday. 😉
But wait! There’s more!
In our little world, the idea was to place the basket at the friend’s door, knock or ring the doorbell, then run like crazy to the edge of the home’s property. (Usually this meant the street.) Meanwhile, said friend would be waiting inside for said knock or bell, and when heard would give chase to the basket bearer. If you got caught, you got kissed. I rarely made it to safety, but not for lack of trying.
Looking back now, I wonder why in the world would we run from a kiss? Perhaps the more savvy girls didn’t run from the cool boys. But I was much too shy and not that smart.
I thought everyone practiced this little rite of spring, but when I headed off to the University of Iowa, none of my friends had heard of it. Perhaps it was a tradition limited to western Iowa. Since it wasn’t known in eastern Iowa, I didn’t hold out hope for my Michigan State graduate school buddies. As my horizons broadened to include the Navy and the world, I eventually gave up asking.
I haven’t been back to my home town in many years and wonder if they still celebrate May Day in the same manner. My guess, or at least my hope, is yes, since many of my school mates still live there, and have hopefully passed the tradition on to their children and grandchildren.
[All photos from City of Glidden’s web site. From the top, the First Presbyterian Church, Glidden Ralston Community School (serving grades K-12) and the “new” aquatic center. Each of them has a story to tell.]