The following is excerpted from one of our favorite freely-found books, Alice van Straalen’s The Book of Holidays Around the World:
May Day Worldwide In a festival that lasted from April 28 to May 3, the Romans offered flowers to Flora, their goddess of spring. They brought the custom to all the European lands they conquered; and by the Middle Ages it became especially popular in England. People rose early in the morning to “bring in the May.” They gathered flowers and tree branches to decorate their homes and later went to the town square where the maypole–often over 100 feet tall–was raised, and a woman representing the May Queen presided over the celebrations. Dancers held the streamers that fell from the top of the pole and, as they circled around it, wove them into tight patterns. When they changed directions the streamers untangled again and blew free, a tradition that some towns in England and America have continued. In 1889 the Second Internationale, an association of French socialists, dedicated May Day to working people, and today in many countries it is celebrated as a labor day. The Soviet Union marks the day with a military parade in Moscow.
Soviet Union…yeah, the book is almost 25 years old…
But don’t worry, God-fearing Americans! It turns out that, in order to reclaim May Day from pinkos and anarchists, the U.S. government declared May 1st “Loyalty Day.” From 36 US Code §115:
(a) Designation.— May 1 is Loyalty Day.(b) Purpose.— Loyalty Day is a special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom.(c) Proclamation.— The President is requested to issue a proclamation—(1) calling on United States Government officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on Loyalty Day; and(2) inviting the people of the United States to observe Loyalty Day with appropriate ceremonies in schools and other suitable places.
Loyalty Day? Okay, sure, why not? I wonder though, in 2009, are the two perspectives on this ancient festival–the concept of workers standing up for the right to control the means of production, etc., and the idea of being loyal to America–are they so different?