Memories of May Day

It is the First of May.
Where I grew up that meant the celebration of May Day.
Our little village of Bishopston (in South Wales) would join with the village of Murton, coming together to put on a fair at Murton Green.
Nana would come to our house to join in the fun.
Not every town still had a May Fair and she enjoyed seeing ours.
We would wait outside our store for the procession to arrive.
A band playing music could be heard coming around the corner.
They marched ahead announcing the arrival.
Trucks decorated in themes would be loaded with people dressed in costumes. A Pirate Ship. A Scarecrow Ball. A Teddy Bear Picnic.
And at the end came the Fairy Float, where the Fairy Queen and the May Queen would be seated with their attendants.
Little girls. Beaming with pride.
Chosen to wear dresses and be decorated with flowers.
Children followed the floats, catching the candy being thrown out into the crowds and the village joined the parade in its slow crawl through the streets.
At the park.
Stalls selling drinks and cupcakes and handmade goodies.
The Maypole tied with coloured ribbons awaiting the dancers from the local school.
In and out the dancers moved, holding their coloured ribbon. Children of an awkward age, embarrassed to hold hands in public and distressed by all the attention.
The ribbons wound together until a colourful braid surrounded the pole and the dancers were finally allowed to join in the fun.
Filled with sugar and sun we would walk to our homes.
We were happy to live in a community that would, every year, put this together for us.
At home mum and dad would be resting.
They were happy too.
Happy to have a half day off from their six and a half day week.
Glad that we were out and busy for a few hours to give them some peace.

This is how I remember May Day.
I am not sure if the celebration continues in our village.
Insurance costs for the trucks and a lack of interest were making it difficult for this tradition to continue.
Of course, May Day is also known for uprisings, labour disputes, and general unrest.
It is, after all, a pagan holiday.
A day that goes against our puritan work ethic. A day of the people.
It whispers, “Spring is here, stop work and come out to play!”



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