In the late 19th century on May 1st, someone placed a small handmade basket filled with flowers and goodies on the door handle of someone they were smitten with. If the recipient saw their admirer, chased and caught them, they would reward their affections with a kiss. Thus starting the tradition of May Day baskets.
Conceived by Anna Jarvis in 1908 and honoring her mom’s passing 3 years prior, Anna wanted to observe one day specifically to celebrate mothers and their personal relationships/sacrifices with their children. She worked tirelessly with numerous organizations … organizing recognition celebrations throughout local towns, launching massive letter writing campaigns to newspapers urging adoption of this special day, even working with the floral industry to raise awareness of her idea. And, because of her efforts, in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson officially established the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
May’s third Saturday is Armed Forces Day, created in 1949 to honor Americans currently serving in the five US military branches. Under President Trump, that day was reaffirmed as a federal holiday, marking the 70th anniversary since the creation of the Department of Defense.
Born out of the Civil War and originally called Decoration Day, General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic at that time, proclaimed ‘the 30th of May, 1868 is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.’ Depending on which state of the Union you lived in, there was much discussion on how and when to observe this holiday. Finally, after WWI, the holiday was changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war. And, so, the last Monday of May, we observe Memorial Day nationwide … a federal day set aside to honor ALL military personnel who have died performing their sworn duties while serving in the US Armed Forces.
In addition to these highlighted traditions, there are many every day celebrations in May. First of all, this year Covid … finally getting under control … families and friends coming together again … a big yippee on that! Old Man Winter has gotten kicked out of his long slumber by Sassy Springtime and woodland & domestic perennials are responding by giving us a bouquet of vibrant colors which will certainly cheer anybody’s day. Here in Minnesota, we anxiously await the opening of fishing season in a couple of days. Garden centers and nurseries are bursting at the seams with gorgeous flowers and sturdy bedding plants just waiting their turn to perform for us the rest of the summer. Some kids are savoring their school year end … because they are graduating and taking the next step in their life journey, or they are anxious to start their summer jobs fulltime, or they just want to see their summer fun begin!
Yes, May is an active month, chock full of traditions and celebrations. And, through it all, a common thread is woven … LOVE! We are smitten with someone and put a basket of flowers on their door; we adore our moms. We are humbly thankful for the freedoms given us by the actions/sacrifices of our military. We joy in our time spent time in and with nature, whether we’re fishing or digging in the dirt (either way, it involves worms!); we are jumping out of our skins to see what life holds for us when our school days are over. Continue reading