Well today is a bank holiday here in Britain, it is the May Day weekend.
One thing that happens around this time each year now is thousands of people will march through central London for one cause or another [normally anti capitalists/globalisation, anti war, environmental campaigners, trade unions so going back to Labour day etc etc]. Most of these groups are peaceful in their protest but there are extreme elements, anarchists and those in the mainstream that are up for a fight that mean thousands of riot and monted police have to stand off against them and this happens, the marches i mean, all over the world. This will all be happening tomorrow or today now.
Now some people might find this odd or call me crazy but one of my most memorable moments of a May Day march in recent times was from a few years ago when a protester who was really asking for it took a riot shiled to the face, put him right down and his place. There's only so long you can incite a riot and be abusive and violent before you get a riot shiled in the face I don't know if the police officer intended it to impact the way it did but it most definetely had the desired effect. For some reason it just sticks in my mind, well i did watch a few hours of the news coverage in case anything happened.
Some things to know about May Day
Italy: The people of ancient Rome honored Flora, the goddess of flowers and springtime, with a festival called Florialia. The goddess was represented by a small statue wreathed in garlands. A procession of singers and dancers carried the statue past a sacred blossom-decked tree. Later, festivals of this kind spread to other lands conquered by the Romans. Today May Day is known as the happiest day of the year in Italy. All varieties of flowers are placed in and around places of worship. Boys often serenade their sweethearts on this day.
Switzerland: In Switzerland, a May pine tree is often placed under a girl's window.
Germany: German boys often secretly plant May trees in front of the windows of their sweethearts.
Czechoslovakia: At night, boys at night place maypoles before their sweethearts' windows.
England: The festivals begun in Italy reached their height in England during the Middle Ages. On the first day of May, English villagers awakened at daybreak to roam the countryside gathering blossoming flowers and branches. A towering maypole was set up on the village green. This pole, usually made of the trunk of a tall birch tree, was decorated with bright field flowers. The villagers then danced and sang around the maypole, accompanied by a piper. Usually the Morris dance was performed by dancers wearing bells on their colorful costumes. Often the fairest maiden of the village was chosen queen of the May. Sometimes a May king was also chosen. These two led the village dancers and ruled over the festivities. In Elizabethan times, the king and queen were called Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Maypoles were usually set up for the day in small towns, but in London and the larger towns they were erected permanently. They were considered heathen eyesores by the Puritans. May Day festivals became so gay and wild that the Puritans were able to force the government to forbid them. They soon sprang up again, however, and still continue in many English villages. Today in London children go from house to house bringing flowers in return for pennies. After the pennies are collected, they are thrown into a wishing well. Special wishes are made with hopes they will be granted. The pennies are later collected and given to different charitable organizations. The traditional English chant used when handing out May baskets is:
Please to smell my garland 'cause it is the first of May.
A branch of May I have brought you, and at your door I stand;
It is but a sprout, but it's well budded out,
The work of our Lady's hand.
France: Since the French considered the month of May to be sacred to the Virgin Mary, they enshrined young girls as May queens in their churches and May queens led processions in honor of the Virgin. Cows also play important roles in French May Day festivals, and bunches of flowers are tied and draped around their tails as they are led in parades. Everyone tries to touch the cows because it is believed to be good luck. On May Day morning, everyone drinks milk still warm from the milking to assure good luck during the year.
Greece: Greek children set out early in the morning to search for the first swallow of spring. When the bird is located, the children go from door to door singing songs of spring. For their efforts, neighbors offer special treats to eat, such as fruits, nuts, and cakes.
United States: The Puritans frowned on May Day and brought that attitude along to the New World, so it has never been celebrated with as much enthusiasm in the U.S. as in Great Britain. But May Day is celebrated by dancing and singing around a maypole tied with colorful streamers or ribbons. The dancers twist the streamers around the pole to make a pretty pattern to be enjoyed by all. On college campuses a May queen is often chosen and the old dances are performed around a maypole. Children often gather spring flowers, place them in handmade paper May baskets and hang them on the doorknobs of relatives and friends--they ring the doorbells and run away, leaving their flowers as a surprise. At May Day parties children select May queens, dance around the maypole, and sing May Day songs. These festivals often occur in parks or schools.
Now some of those things might not be represented today in whole or in part but it explaines a bit about the day and its origins.
May 1st is also the beginning of Summer in many places
Last edited by Critic; 05-02-2004 at 10:04 PM.
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