Origin of May Day
Words nearby May Day
Other definitions for May Day (2 of 2)
Origin of Mayday
MORE ABOUT MAY DAY
What is May Day?
May Day is the first day of May—observed by some as a holiday in celebration of springtime and by others as a day honoring workers and commemorating the labor movement.
May Day celebrations related to the coming of spring often involve several traditions originating with ancient Celtic religious practices, including the crowning of a May queen and dances around a Maypole, a tall pole decorated with flowers and ribbons.
When May Day is observed as a day to honor workers, it is often marked by parades and political demonstrations. This day is sometimes Labour Day, International Workers’ Day, or simply Workers’ Day. In the U.S., the holiday known as Labor Day occurs on the first Monday in September.
The distress call Mayday is not related to May Day (the distress call originates from a simplified spelling of the French term m’aidez, meaning “help me”).
When is May Day?
May Day is always on May 1.
Where does May Day come from?
The first records of the term May Day come from the 1200s. The word May refers to the month.
May Day is associated with the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane, which marked the beginning of summer and is now observed in Scotland and Ireland on May 1. Like other springtime festivals with Pagan origins, May Day involves traditions based on fertility rituals and reverence for nature.
May 1 became associated with workers and the labor movement in the late 1800s when the date was chosen to commemorate labor protests at Haymarket Square in Chicago in 1886.
What are some terms that often get used in discussing May Day?
How is May Day discussed in real life?
The name May Day is used for two observances—one celebrating spring and the other honoring workers and the labor movement. In some places, May 1 is called Labour Day, Workers’ Day, or International Workers’ Day.
These photos from our archive depict May Day merriment in the 1930s, including traditional dance, dancing around the maypole, and the coronation of the May Queen.
We have looked hard and thankfully cannot see @Florence_Pugh in any of them. pic.twitter.com/dClBlBRHq8
— The Museum of English Rural Life (@TheMERL) May 1, 2020
Protesters gather in US streets as "May Day" demonstrations take place around the globe https://t.co/ytpOve5ku7 https://t.co/6e4G0UTUfI
— CNN (@CNN) May 1, 2017
In celebration of May Day, my Union Town EP is available for free download today ONLY! Visit https://t.co/0kxoqx7A4l. #UnionTown #MayDay
— Tom Morello (@tmorello) May 1, 2017
Try using May Day!
True or False?
The date of May Day varies from year to year.
How to use May Day in a sentence
One of her formative experiences was during the May Day parade of 1924.The Mom Who Stole the Blueprints for the Atomic Bomb (The Freakonomics Radio Book Club Ep. 11)|Sarah Lyall|September 25, 2021|Freakonomics
After being forced to come to terms with SARS, China’s leaders eventually did enforce quarantine in Beijing and canceled the week-long May Day holiday of 2003.China Beat The Coronavirus With Science And Strong Public Health Measures, Not Just With Authoritarianism|LGBTQ-Editor|November 23, 2020|No Straight News
I recollect your 'May-day in the morning'—cuss me, the best comick song I ever heard.Memoirs of Mr. Charles J. Yellowplush|William Makepeace Thackeray
We had a lovely idea for a May-Day celebration, but we had to give it up, as we had no place to hold it.Blue Robin, the Girl Pioneer|Rena I. Halsey
My fancy adorned it with wreaths of flowers, and peopled the green bank with all the dancing revelry of May-day.
The original purport of most of the May-day ceremonials was unquestionably a demonstration of joy at the return of spring.
The old Puritan writers seem to have entertained a most profound horror of the ancient May-day festivities.
British Dictionary definitions for May Day (1 of 2)
Word Origin for Mayday
British Dictionary definitions for May Day (2 of 2)
- the first day of May, traditionally a celebration of the coming of spring: in some countries now observed as a holiday in honour of workers
- (as modifier)May-Day celebrations