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It’s May Day!

May 1, 2026

It’s May Day! So what is May Day exactly? Traditionally, the day marks the halfway point between the spring equinox and the summer solstice.

Germanic pagan tribes and their descendants celebrated new spring flowers and the sprouting of crops with bonfires and dancing around the maypole.

Though the Puritans disavowed these traditions, other groups of American immigrants brought such May Day traditions with them. Beginning in the late 1800s, there was a revived interest in May Day on American college campuses, which lasted through the 1950s.

May baskets (a paper basket or cone of flowers and candy) were popular in the 1800s and 1900s. The giver of a May basket leaves it on the door of the recipient, usually anonymously. Though a lesser-known tradition, some American schoolchildren still make and gift May
baskets as a craft project.

Did you know? The distress call, “Mayday!” does not refer to May Day, but has origins in the French phrase “m’aidez,” which means “help me!”

 

The Flower Arrangement, Otto Scholderer, 1900

-Written by Anna Zemaitaitis, Communications and Design Officer

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May 1, 2026
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