Morris dancing, named after 13th-century Moorish dancers, is also a common sight on May Day across the world. Their stomping feet and clashing sticks bring to mind the clash of summer and winter, resulting in summer’s eventual triumph.

In England, May Day is especially beloved, and remains a deep-seated tradition celebrated in most towns and communities. These English traditions include crowning of a May Queen, and annual processions of Morris dancers that parade through towns—these modern celebrations often incorporate elements from Beltane, the Festival of Flora, and Walpurgis Night.

In the United States, the celebration of May Day was initially quashed by early Puritan settlers, and so celebrations are fewer, and vary greatly from region to region. Among the largest is the May Day Parade and Pageant that occurs ever year in Minneapolis, and attracts over 35,000 people from all over the country.

Another American May Day custom is the giving of May baskets—someone leaves a basket of sweets and flowers on a doorstep, rings the bell, and runs away. If the recipient manages to catch the basket-giver, a kiss is exchanged.

A Celebration of Growth

All of the sources of what we now know as May Day have roots in celebrations of growth and fertility, and so this remains the core of this summer holiday, no matter where it is celebrated.

This May Day, don't forget to pay thanks to these life-giving qualities of summer as you engage in fun and dance!