Tomorrow is May 1st. For centuries, May 1st has been a holiday.
In the traditional Celtic calendar, May 1st is the beginning of summer. By the time May rolls around, most of the planting has been done. So the days was celebrated with rituals to ensure the fertility of the fields and the livestock. Life literally depended on the fruitfulness of the harvest. Later celebrations included maypoles, feasts, and fairs as a brief break after the hard work of plowing and planting.
By the early 1900s, May Day was celebrated as a Day for Workers — sort of like the original intent of Labor Day (which has now become a celebration of the end of summer). This observance was co-opted by communist governments who used it as an excuse for displays of military might. But still today, many countries celebrate their version of Labor Day on May 1st. To counteract the communist influence, Pope Pius XII made it the memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker. This memorial made it a way to celebrate workers without accepting the atheism and abuses of communism.
So, what does that mean for people in 21st century America? It’s unlikely that we’ll convince folks to change the date of Labor Day. And I’m not sure I want a maypole in my front yard. (Plus, I don’t know enough people to get a good May dance going!) Here are some things you can think about doing: