“As full of spirit as the month of May, and gorgeous as the sun in Midsummer.”
The May Day basket is but a forgotten rite of spring in North America. In this charming tradition, a small bouquet of flowers is hung on a neighbor’s door to welcome spring. The giver remains anonymous so that there is no reciprocity expected. It is a small floral gift to brighten the recipient’s day.
Traditionally the bouquets are held in small paper cones, hung with ribbon. See my “how to” instructions on making the paper cones here. Any household containers can be used as a May Basket. An empty aluminium can with hammered holes on its side threaded with ribbon makes a unique bouquet holder. Jelly jars with wire or ribbon/raffia/twine wrapped around the neck work well too as do baskets with handles. Even an inverted party paper hat with the elastic replaced with ribbon can be totally charming repurposed as a May bouquet container. I created several May Baskets to inspire yours. Who will you surprise on May 1st? Continue reading
May Day celebrations can be traced as far back as the Festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, as well as to the Walpurgis Night celebrations in Germanic countries and to the Gaelic Festival of Beltano. In Europe, the first of May is a national holiday, their Labor Day. In France it is celebrated with the giving of lily-of-the-valley or muguet bouquets. This tradition goes back to the reign of King Charles IX who believed the flower was a token of good luck. The tradition has endured more than 400 years. A more detailed history of May Day can be read here.
In North America May Day is not much celebrated except perhaps in the making of darling May Baskets and in some places, dancing around a May pole. Traditionally, May Baskets have been created in paper cones filled with flowers then hung on a neighbor’s door with ribbon, anonymously, on the first day of May. The idea of the bouquets is to signal spring and brighten someone’s day with no reciprocity expected. It is a lovely concept and this year I decided to make some of these charming baskets and filled them with flowers from my garden albeit sans lily-of-the-valley, as it has been too cold and we have but pips poking their tips out of the earth.
A simple bouquet of Virginia bluebells and hellebores in a paper cone