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According to the History Channel, The Celts of The British Isles originally celebrated the festival of Beltane on May 1. This May Day festival was thought to divide the light from the darkness. To celebrate, they set big bonfires, herded livestock, and decorated them with yellow May flowers. Rather than a May pole, they tied ribbons to a large oak. Ancient Celts danced around it and prayed for good crops. When the Romans invaded the British Isles, they brought with them the five day celebration known as Floralia in which they honored the Roman goddess of flowers. These two rituals were eventually combined resulting in crowning an annual May King and Queen and filling homemade baskets with flowers and leaving them on the door of your sweetheart. Tradition holds that if they catch you, they get to kiss you.  

Though less well known in the United States than in Europe, many school children still celebrate May Day by filling baskets with flowers and goodies and leaving them on peoples porches. In 1920 some courageous young children even left a May Day basket on the porch of the White House for the then First Lady Grace Coolidge.

This spring has been unique in many ways. Because of social distancing, it’s not possible to put up a May pole and gather to celebrate. It’s not advisable to go to a neighbors with cookies and flowers, so the question then remains, how do we celebrate May Day during social distancing? Here are a few suggestions to help welcome in spring in North Dakota while maintaining a safe distance.

You may wish to plant flowers in your yard to welcome springtime, or you could hang a basket of flowers on your mailbox or on your property to spread cheer. You might consider sending May Day cards or emails to friends and loved ones as many are experiencing loneliness at this time. You might also choose to support your local businesses by ordering take out and enjoying it in your home or on your patio. While we are asked to remain separate, there are still numerous ways we can still celebrate May Day and the beginning of spring.

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