Today is the first day of May. This is an indisputable fact. Isn’t it nice to have an actual fact here?
In many cultures, May Day was/has been/is celebrated as a Spring Rite. (Not to be confused with the ballet*, although there was frequently dancing around a maypole.)
The most interesting fact I found is that in Hawaii May Day is also known as Lei Day. Lei Day was invented in the 1920s and is a day to celebrate Hawaiian island culture and spring.
Which is particularly interesting since originally February 1st was considered the first day of spring, making May 1st the first day of summer and midsummer (the summer solstice) the end of June and an excellent time for dreaming*. (Keep up—these are excellent arts references.)
So on the one hand we have a happy little pagan-based holiday, May Day, celebrating warmth, spring, the return of the flowers, and dancing ribbons. And with the removal of one little space, we have Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! the distress callsign. Turns out the mayday signal was invented in 1923 (are you taking notes?) in London, not as an insult to spring, but because the French phrase “venez m’aider” means “come help me.”
Mayday as a distress call must always be said 3 times, and it is about 12 kinds of illegal (and stupid) to use it in jest. Since I have no interest in visiting you in jail for 6 years and the fine is waaaay more than your tuition AND it would be bad for you to be in Real Distress, let’s just stick with celebrating spring, ‘k?
Happy May Day, kid.
Igor Stravinsky’s ballet, The Rite of Spring
Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream