Saturday, May 1, 2021

May Day - When The First Of May Was A Holiday

May Day In Sunbury, 1962

"There was a time when the coming of May Day brought a rush of poetry to the head.  There was a time when May Day was celebrated by delivering baskets of flowers to the home of friends..." Shamokin News Dispatch, May 1940

May Poles at the Valley Consolidated School in Danville, Date Unknown

MAY DAY AT MEMORIAL PARK, WATSONTOWN Hundreds of persons witnessed the May Day exercises at Watsontown Memorial Park Monday afternoon, given by the pupils of the Watsontown schools, under the direction of their teachers and the school nurse, Mrs. Genevieve Kemble. They were also assisted by Miss Elva Martin, Miss Freda Boughter and the pianists. Miss Kathryn Moser and Miss Mae Saxton. - May 1st 1928

Lewisburg, 1958

In May of 1940, the May Day Celebration in Sunbury was held at the F. Merrion Gross Statidum, with nearly 2,000 (including 1,000 students) in attendance.
The ceremony began with a procession of the students "arrayed in every color of the rainbow", along with the bands.  It continued with the coronation of the King "The king was attired in a full dress suit, while his personal attendant was attired in white, and other attendants in white trousers and dark coats", followed by the coronation of the Queen.
The Queen wore a white gown, her attendants were "attired in a variety of colors".

May Day Queen & Court At The Valley Consolidated School, Danville

Third grade students then presented a "tableau of the Red Cross", followed by a Hobby Horse Dance performed by the first and second grades.  Next was the Tom Thumb wedding, by the "frist and second grades of the Old High building"
A May pole dance was presented by 6th grade students followed by the third and fourth grade students, with Esther Moyer "Presenting calisthenics"
Fourth Grade students gave a court dance, followed by a "Pop Goes The Weasel" dance by 5th grade pupils.

1940 May Day Exercise on the athletic field at Selinsgrove High School

"Approximately 400 boys and girls from Junior and Senior High schools then presented a find gym exhibition"
The program ended with a may pole winding, by the attendants of the King and Queen.

1940 May Day Festivities at Susquehanna University.  May Pole can be seen off to the right.

The  Maypole dance became a common rite of spring at colleges from the late 19th century through the 1950s. Seen as a wholesome tradition, this celebration often included class plays, Scottish dancing, Morris dancing, a cappella concerts, and various cultural dancing and music displays.

May Day at Bucknell, 1934

In early days, it was a time of matchmaking." If paired by sundown, the courtship continued so that the couple could get to know each other and married 6 weeks later on June’s Midsummer’s Day. This is how the “June Wedding” became a tradition."- The Farmers Almanac

The Mount Carmel Item, 1916

In 1916, suffragists revived the "Cheery May-Day Custom" of gathering flowers from the woods and leaving them anonymously on door steps.  They tied the flowers with yellow ribbons, the suffragist color.



"Originally, the Maypole was a living tree brought in from the woods with much merrymaking. Ancient Celts danced around the tree, praying for good crops and fertility. " - Farmers Almanac

 May Day is roughly the halfway point between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. According to the Old Farmers Almanac, it's one of the celtic cross quarter days which were celebrated midway points between all the solstices and equinoxes of the year.

May Day Celebration at Susquehanna University
May Day Queen & Court at Susquehanna University 1934

1 comment:

  1. A simpler time. I long for such simplicity wholesomeness.


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