May 1st Holidays

There are a lot of holidays today, chief among them, May Day.


  • Ascension – Catholicism
  • Beltane – Celts/Gaels
  • Constitution Day – Latvia & the Marshall Islands
  • Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker
  • Festival of Bona Dea – Rome
  • Kazakh Peoples’ Unity Day – Kazakhstan
  • Labor Day AKA Labour Day AKA Workers’ Day – Worldwide
  • Law Day – USA
  • Lei Day – Hawaii
  • Loyalty Day – USA
  • Maharashtra Day (Maharashtra Divas) – Maharastra, India
  • National Day of Prayer – USA
  • National Love Day – Czech Republic
  • Save the Rhino Day – USA
  • Taco Truck Night – Los Angeles
  • Virgen de Chapi – Peru

May Day celebrations are rooted in the ancient Celtic/Gaelic practice of Beltane and the Anglo-Saxon/Germanic observances of Walpurgisnacht.  These include crowing the Queen of the May, Morris Dancing, the giving of May Baskets, getting drunk, and the erection of a Maypole.

For a lot of the world, May Day has more to do with labor than olde tyme religion. After the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago, laborers around the world were inspired to express themselves on May Day. In response to this commie tomfoolery, the US designated the day “Loyalty Day” to fight international solidarity among workers and to promote, in its place, blind obedience. It is a legal holiday and one marked by parades in some communities although I’ve never heard of anyone observing it. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is observing Labor Day.

In parts of Cornwall, a there’s a May Day ‘Obby ‘Oss (Cornish for “Hobby Horse”) Festival in which teams of Cornish drunkards terrorise the streets from beneath their ‘obby ‘osses. Elsewhere in Cornwall, townies build a model of the ship, The Black Prince, and set it (covered in flowers) out to sea.

In St.  Andrews, Scotland, torchbearers run naked into the North Sea after amassing at the beach late the previous night.

In the US, May Day traditions have been downplayed ever since the days of the colonies when such obvious Pagan observances were banned. Today, May Baskets are still filled with flowers and left anonymously on doorsteps in parts of the country. I remember most years running to the door after the bell rang and finding an anonymously left basket of flowers. If culprit is caught, they have to give up a kiss. I never saw the guilty party, however. It was probably my neighbors. Strange…


Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing Boing,Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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