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Origin Of Holidays

May Day


May Day brings up different images to different people. Some think of the springtime celebratory dances around the May pole to welcome in the summer. Some think of it in terms of International labor unions. A somber day of remembrance of Walpurgisnacht to some. A total mystery to others. Just what is this day?

In the beginning there was a goddess named Flora. "Flora is the Roman Goddess of flowering plants, especially those that bear fruit" (Took, 2006); half of the duo the flora and the fauna. In the late spring a celebration in fertility was in order. Spring was proof of the sign of the gods that the death of winter is over and spring is born. Imbolc, Ostara [Easter] and Beltane are the Celtic beginning, middle and end of spring celebrations with Beltane landing near May 1st observed with a night of fire (Aubin, 2000).

Easter was the Christian sanitized version of this holiday. As Ostara was the height of celebrating new birth, rightfully Jesus was reborn into spirit. Corresponding with the seasonal changes, this ancient festival inspired the Jewish Passover.

Walpurgis Night, otherwise known as Walpurgisnacht, is the celebration before the date of the marking when her canonization on May 1st 870 which is observed on the Catholic calendar and celebrated by Germanic and Nordic countries (Catholic Online, n.d.).

It is also associated with International Labor Unions. As the Industrial Age was in full gear, industrial capitalists were earning excess of wealth on the backs of workers taking all the physical risks without a decent wage or working condition. Unions were formed to combat this injustice. On one unfortunate day, May 1st 1886, anarchists in Chicago were charged with throwing a bomb at a police station killing several people (Stephen, 2006). The police returned fire after the bomb went off, so it is unknown how many died from the bomb or by return fire or if even the bomb was planted by an industrialist to discredit the unions. In memory of the struggle, many countries observe May Day as Labor Day.

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