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Table of Contents
May Day is a holiday celebrated on the first day of May which has its roots from an ancient spring festival. In countries like the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, and Romania, it is observed with dancing, singing, and festivities while in the U.S, May Day is associated with the Chicago’s Haymarket Square riot.
See the fact file below for more information on May Day or alternatively, you can download our 22-page May Day worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Origin and Background
- During the Roman Republic era, May Day was first celebrated along with Floralia or the festival of flowers in honor of Flora, a Roman goddess. It became a traditional summer holiday for many pagan cultures in Europe. The day was originally called Beltane which means Day of Fire and was often celebrated with bonfires.
- Roman Catholics in the 18th century observed the coming of May with rituals and devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Traditions During May Day
- During the Medieval era, maypole dance was popularized in parts of Europe. Unmarried young women used to walk around the decorated pole while holding colored ribbons. In the 1600s, the Catholic Church banned such practice due to sexual connotations.
- In countries like Germany, Sweden,and the Czech Republic, people celebrate the eve before May Day as Walpurgis Night in honor of Saint Walpurga, an English missionary.
- Crowning a May Queen was also popular during this day. Women used leaves and flowers for hair garlands.
- In the late 20th century, giving of May baskets filled with sweets and flowers started to fade. Traditionally, these baskets would be left to someone’s doorstep.
- In 1928, Hawaii embraced May Day as Lei Day to celebrate its own culture.
- On this day, farmers plant corn, turnips, and cucumbers. Moreover, people in villages do theatrical battles between summer and winter.
- Today, May Day is one of the most recognized bank holiday in Europe. Maypole dancing is a choreographed dance participated in by children.
May Day and Labour Day
- In May 1886, labor leaders rallied near the Chicago Haymarket Square which turned into a riot after someone threw a bomb at the police officers.
- As a result, a number of people died and some were convicted of the bombing.
- In Canada and the United States, May Day is not an official holiday. Instead, May 1st marks the Haymarket Affair and was declared by the International Socialist Conference as International Workers’ Day in 1889.
- In 1894, the U.S declared the first Monday in September as Labour Day.
- Many countries including Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Nigeria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, China, Singapore, and the Philippines commemorate May 1 as Labour/Labor Day to honor native workers.
May Day Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about May Day across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use May Day worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about May Day which is a holiday celebrated on the first day of May and has its roots in an ancient spring festival. In countries like the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, and Romania, it is observed with dancing, singing, and festivities while in the U.S, May Day is associated with the Chicago’s Haymarket Square protest.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- May Day Facts
- May Day Mapping
- May 1st: May Day & Labour Day
- Customs and Traditions
- Seasons in the Sun
- It’s May Day!
- Season Festivals
- Picture Pole
- Poem for May Day
- Month of May
- May Day Webbing
Frequently Asked Questions
When is May Day celebrated?
May Day is observed with festivities on the first day of May every year.
Are May Day and the Haymarket Square riot the same?
May Day is a traditional festival held in the UK and Europe on the first of May each year and is associated with spring. In the US, May Day is associated with the Haymarket Square riot on 4 May 1886 when workers protesting over labor rights clashed violently with police.
What is the difference between May Day and mayday?
May Day is a spring celebration in the UK and Europe, and is associated with the Haymarket Square Riot in the US. Mayday, on the other hand, is the international distress signal used by ships and aircraft.
Is May Day the same all over the world?
While many countries observe May Day, others celebrate occasions by other names, such as Labour Day and International Workers’ Day, which is celebrated by over 80 countries around the world.
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Link will appear as May Day Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, April 27, 2022
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.