What is May Day?

Find out why May 1 is commemorated as May Day every year here.

You've probably heard the SOS cry "May Day, May Day, May Day!" or seen it on your calendar on May 1, but do you know what May Day actually is? Turns out, it's a lot of things. 

As explained in this NBC Chicago video, May Day is the commemoration of International Workers' Day, which celebrates the labor movement by recognizing the Haymarket Massacre of 1886 in Chicago, in which a bomb was thrown into a crowd of demonstrators. 

But May Day is also much more. According to InfoPlease.com, "it's a celebration of Spring. It's a day of political protests. It's a neopagan festival, a saint's feast day. ... In many countries, it is a national holiday."

The first day of May is celebrated differently all over the world, but in the United States, some people make May baskets to celebrate early European settlers reaching this continent. The baskets are filled with flowers and treats and are left on neighbors doorsteps. 

The Maypole is a staple of May Day around the world. According to TheHolidaySpot.com, centuries ago, European villages would compete to build the tallest Maypole.

As for the distress call "May Day, May Day, May Day," the term originates from 1923, when Senior Radio Officer Frederick Stanley Mockford was asked to come up with an easy-to-understand signal meaning "help me now." According to WantToKnowIt.com, he chose "May Day" because it sounds similar to "m'aider" the French phrase meaning "come help me." 

For full instructions on putting your basket together, click here. In need of supplies? Bonney Lake-Sumner Patch recommends as the place to pick up crepe paper, pipe cleaners, silk flowers and any other trinkets to put in the basket.

So now you know all about May Day. How will you celebrate? Know of a better place to gather items for your May basket? Tell us in the comments!

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