“What is a May Day basket?” My college roommate asked. I couldn’t believe my ears. It was like asking what April Fools’ Day was or Halloween!
Growing up in Seattle, May Day was one of my favorite holidays. On May 1, my friends and I made baskets of construction paper and filled them with flowers we picked. Then came the fun part. We sneaked up to a neighbor’s house and carefully hung a basket on the doorknob. Then we rang the doorbell and ran away, laughing all the way. In the ’90s, my family often got two or three May Day baskets.
However, when I moved away for college I realized that outside Seattle, this tradition has mostly been lost. May Day baskets date back to the 1800s and were popular throughout the U.S. through the 1950s. Today few basket-making havens remain, and even in Seattle finding a May Day basket has become a rare treat. I worry after two years of COVID-19 if a single Seattle doorknob will be graced with flowers this year.
Unless … we remember. So, what are you and your kids doing tomorrow — want to join me for a little May Day mischief?
Laura D’Asaro, Seattle