May Day! Not ‘Meh’ Day


Run the letters together, or say it in the cockpit, and it means an emergency distress signal.

John_Collier_-_Queen_Guinevere's_MayingBut say May Day, and you conjure up visions of an ancient springtime festival, young girls with flowers in their hair, and frolicking in a quaint village square. Dances, singing, and cake are usually part of the celebrations that the May 1st holiday includes.

Here comes the summer. The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times. The day was a traditional summer* holiday in many pre-Christian European pagan cultures. Following the Renaissance, it became a day celebrating the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in the last few centuries, that celebration evolved into a more secular festival, which also includes dancing around the maypole and crowning the Queen of May.

Tisket, tasket. In Des Moines, many people still celebrate May Day with traditional “May baskets,” small baskets of candies or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbors’ doorsteps.

May_Basket_ideaA basket by any other name would still (taste) as sweet. You can find thousands of elaborate May baskets on Pinterest, filled with petits fours and tiny knitted hedgehogs, made by highly-skilled artists with lots of leisure time on their hands.

May day, not Meh-day. For the rest of us, unskilled with the glue gun, and short on crafting time, here are some simple, quick, delicious May basket ideas:

    • Cool containers: a glued (or stapled) construction paper cone, a 12 – 16 oz (clean!) plastic cup, an empty ice cream cone, a flowerpot, a plain empty tin can (label removed), a Mason or jelly jar (the hipster’s container of choice), a half-pint cardboard berry container, a paper lunch bag
    • Fun fillers: fresh flowers from your yard (lilacs, a sprig of redbud, daffodils or tulips if you still have ’em blooming), fabric or paper flowers (break out those wire pipe cleaners!), a packet of garden seeds; candies, special teas, or a homemade treat:


May basket custom says that you anonymously leave the goodie basket on your friend’s doorstep, and run away before you are discovered. If you are caught, you have to kiss the recipient. (In some instances, that might be the desired result. We don’t judge. You run away fast… or not).

However you decide to fill your May baskets, you should come visit with us on May 1. It’s not just May Day this year, it’s also First Friday, so we’ll be celebrating that as well, and staying open until 8 pm.


*In early Christian times, February 1 was considered the first day of Spring, and May 1 was the first day of summer; thus, the summer solstice(which we now consider the first day of summer) was called Midsummer.