Lace umbrellas, wreaths and floral arrangements, baskets and poles with colorful ribbons, dancing and ritualistic fires, marches, strikes and riots – how do these all come together as a single holiday in the Northern Hemisphere?
As May Day, of course!
There’s no point in regurgitating the same information that the below posted articles explain – you can read all about the history of this storied holiday.
There is, however, a point in seeking some sort of reconciliation of the beautiful ancient celebration and the sometimes-violent industrial protests. Especially if we want to gain anything from the observation of this holiday.
Respect. Honor. Dignity. Gratitude.
Like the ancient Celts we can choose to recognize and honor the longer days of Summer. We can choose to show respect and admiration for the natural forces of the planet. We can choose to look forward, with eager and open hearts, to the hope of a fruitful planting season that provides us with sustenance and strength. In our modern society, we can choose to show respect and reverence for our shared home by educating ourselves and our children about the importance of taking care of the planet, preserving forests, and cleaning the air and waterways that sustain life.
We can celebrate May Day by also recognizing the sacrifices made by strikers, marchers, and protesters who literally put their lives on the line to demand a standard of safety and dignity for all workers. We can be thankful that, even if we don’t love our jobs, we are protected from abuse and degradation because of the work done by those who came before us. We can educate ourselves about the practices and human rights records of the companies we support, and maybe, if necessary, make switches to other brands if we don’t find ourselves agreeing with employee treatment – or ecological treatment for that matter.
It’s one day with two storied, and in their own rights, beautiful traditions. From both origin stories we can glean a lesson about respect for our planet and each other; honor of the fragility and sacred nature of Earth, and of those who fought the fight for us; dignity that is inherent in all the natural world, including human beings; and gratitude for the ways we benefit and thrive off the fruits of the planet and the fruits of others’ labor.