Ancient Roots, Modern Holidays For Kids - May Day, Beltane, May 1st Illustration

Ancient Roots, Modern Holidays For Kids - May Day, May 1st

May Day is an ancient holiday

Nobody knows who invented May Day. It's that old!

Some people believe the ancient Romans "invented" the May Pole. Like other ancient civilizations, the ancient Romans worshipped many gods and goddesses.

To honor the deities of new life and flowers, legend suggests they cut down a tree, decorated it with ribbons, then danced around it. This was the beginning of the May Pole. It could be true. It would certainly be in character!

For all the ancient cultures, the coming of summer was cause for celebration. It meant food could be gathered and planted.

As part of their celebration, some ancient people gathered flowers and put them on window ledges to keep out pesky fairies. Others filled baskets with gifts and greenery to give to friends and loved ones.

The ancient Celts built bonfires, with nine different types of wood, then leaped over the flames for luck. In the Bavarian regions of Germany, people played tricks on each other!

Yet, for all its appearance of merriment, for most ancient cultures, May Day was a very serious celebration. Many rituals were designed, not to thank, but to please and to appease the gods. It would not be until the autumn festivals, when the crops were safely harvested, that these ancient people would heave a sigh of relief.

Today, May Day is celebrated as a workers holiday, a day off from work with pay in just about every country in the world except for the United States. The United States does not recognize May Day as a federal holiday. In the U.S., workers are honored on Labor Day, which falls on the first Monday in September, each year.

May Day is also called Beltane

May Day, Beltane (Donn, cartoon powerpoint)

Learn about the ancient Celts