I don`t think that, as an American, I`ve ever experienced a May Day celebration. It really just isn`t done. I suppose it is one tradition that never managed to cross the Atlantic, because as far as I can see there are still historical societies and perhaps rural villages keeping these traditions alive in the isles, including England, today.
It hasn`t traditionally been celebrated in the U.S. because the Puritan settlers frowned on anything fun, basically, but also especially the frivolity of May Day. This makes sense when you consider that a lot of Spring holidays traditionally involved fertility celebrations, which usually means kissing and…stuff. Anyways, the stuffy Puritans wouldn`t have liked that. I`m not sure I like it. But I still like May Day. There`s just something fascinating about it, especially because I`ve never experienced it!
Here at the right we have a May pole. As you can see, there are a bunch of huge ribbons attached at the top of the pole, and dancers run in circles around it until it is wrapped all the way down. In medieval England, the May pole served as a central location for all the celebrations to bring in Spring. It would be hung with greenery and flowers, with ribbons attached at the top and dancers going round until it was wrapped all the way to the bottom. Morris dancing and other types of frivolity were done to use some of the happiness of the melting of the snow.
In modern times, May Day also serves as the time for a Labor Day celebration. Everyone, regardless of their job, has the day off. It is truly lovely. This could trace back to 1955, when Pope Pius XII designated May 1 as a feast day of St.Joseph the Worker.
May Day can also be traced to the Celtic celebration of Beltane. That`s the one where couples jumped over fires together and then, um, celebrated together. Interesting. There were actually a lot of different things that went into Beltane, but they all involved burning things or people. Sounds like a jolly day. Or that I`m practicing sarcasm!
Walpurgisnacht was really just confusing when I looked it up. It combined the holy day about St.Walburga the martyr and an ancient holiday that had witch preventative charms and the believed day that witches met with the evil one. Kind of interesting.