living green

Happy May Day

The weekend of or just after May 1st was always one of my favorites growing up. April in MN tends to still be pretty chilly, with the occasional snow storm – because it is, after all, “Minnesnowta”. But May, May is when it actually gets warm, when you’re actually safe to tuck your winter clothes away. The sun is gaining strength and the lilacs are about to bloom. And man, walking into a back yard lined with lilac bushes is so sweet in the spring. Intoxicating, almost. I think when you live in a place known for its winter weather, the welcoming of spring is so much sweeter.

And the artsy/hippy/inner-city neighborhood I grew up in celebrates¬†May Day¬†with flair. There’s a puppet theater in the neighborhood that puts on a May Day parade every year on the first Sunday of May. The parade is filled with fantastical creatures, lots of flowing fabric, tons of stilt walkers, and a healthy dose of social and political commentary, as May Day is not only a celebration welcoming spring, but also International Workers Day. When I was little, my dad would paint my face in preparation for the parade – usually my request was Siberian tiger. The parade route passed just a couple blocks away from my house, so we could walk to see it, and usually I could count on watching at least a little bit of the parade from my dad’s shoulders. The parade would lead everyone to the park, where we would watch a play about the earth welcoming the sun back for the spring. The play would culminate in the sun coming out from its hibernation on the island in the pond and sailing across the pond to warm the earth again. And there would be dancing and may pole decorating and good cheer.

I have such sweet memories of May Day as a child. Every year that I’m away I long to be back in Minneapolis for this celebration. It’s certainly one of those traditions that I hope to share often with Husby and Cheeks. These years that we are away we may just have to start making our own traditions, like delivering May baskets to our friends and neighbors!