May Day is marked on May 1 in different countries. May Day is an ancient pagan holiday celebrating the beginning of summers. Europeans and Americans celebrate the day with maypole dancing and anti-capitalist protests. But things have changed now, these days people expect a long weekend.
While mostly, International Workers day or Labour Day in the UK, the tradition has origins in pagan festivals that celebrate spring and fertility. It is also known as Beltaine and it has various beliefs and cultures attached to it.
Origin, History, and celebration of May Day
There are several theories on how May Day came into existence. It says three different celebrations in late April that were merged to give May 1 a special significance.
In Ireland and Scotland, May Day also known as Beltane was held halfway between spring equinox in the middle of March and the summer solstice in the middle of June. To mark the onset of summers, villagers set bonfire, different rituals to keep the crops and cattle safe were held. Also, a big feast was also accompanied by it.
In April, Romans also celebrated Flora, the goddess of flowers during summer. The current May Day celebrations are said to be a mix of all of it. May Day have become a secular festival over the years. Originating from pagan traditions, May Day celebrations call for cutting of young trees to marking the beginning of summer. People dance around the May Pole, celebrating the day.
However, across the world, May Day witnesses labor movements and demand for the work rights. May 1 was chosen for the protests s it was aligned with the anniversary of Haymarket affair in Chicago where police killed four people at the peaceful protests after someone threw a bomb in the crowd.
Schools, colleges, government institutions, and most other organizations remain closed on May Day.