1st of May, often more frequently known as Mayday is an ancient spring festival in the Northern Hemisphere. It is usually a national holiday in several countries around the world. Many countries also consider it as a traditional spring holiday. Every culture has its own way of celebrating festivals due to different origins, religions, nature and belief. This festival is known to have its origins in the pre-Christian era along with Roman festival of flowers, Walpurgis Night of the Germans and the Beltane celebrations of the Gaelic countries. However, following the industrial revolution since the 19th century the term Mayday is now more precisely known as Labour Day or International worker’s Day. It has its origins from the “Eight-hour day Movement” according to which every labour is entitled to have eight hours of work, eight hours of recreation and eight hours of rest. This article is an attempt to put forward a brief note on how this festival is celebrated in different countries.
USA- Mayday or Loyalty Day
Mayday is also known as Labours Day in America. It was first observed in 1921 and was called the ‘Americanisation Day’. On this day the Americans show their allegiance and love for their country by staging appropriate ceremonies in schools and other public places. Music shows are one of the most commonly seen programs which make use of musical instruments like fender telecaster, Casio’s, drums among the others. South beach smoke of Miami is another common feature of this festival in the United States.
Scotland and Ireland
Mayday celebrations in these two countries follow the typical Beltane- Celtic calendar. It is a feast that they celebrate to mark the beginning of summer. The most common feature of the celebrations includes the Bonfire and they enjoy it to the fullest.Among the other features, driving cattle between two fires and lighting models or images of witches are popular.
In Germany it is celebrated as the ‘Walpurgisnacht’ as a homage to St.Boniface who brought Christianity to Germany in 8th century. This festival coincides with the already existing pagan festival in Germany. The activities include bonfires, burning of foto canvas of the witches, partying and fun almost through the entire night.
It was known as ‘going a – maying’ in the medieval era. Though the old traditions have disappeared these days, if you are lucky you may still find Maypole – decorated with ribbons, flowers, greenery with beautiful colours painted over it. This serves the focus point of celebrations and the tradition includes people dancing around the pole. You may even find several children play games around the pole. In the olden days jumping off the Magdalen Bridge into the River Cherwell was also among the rituals however, it is banned due to serious injuries caused in the past.
The Maydayrun is another common feature of the festival which involves thousands of motorbikes and car’s taking an 89km trip from Locksbottom to the Hastings, East Sussex. This event has been taking place for 30years now and the interest keeps growing. Though the event is not officially organised it sees the presence of police to manage traffic, volunteers to manage parking and car accident attorney.