A tisket, a tasket, create a May Day basket
By Jennifer Forker
For The Associated Press
DENVER — For those who celebrate May Day, it’s all about the ding-dong-ditch — ringing a neighbor’s doorbell, leaving a basket of flowers or candy and then racing to hide. Kids love it, and so do some shameless adults.
The May 1 holiday goes virtually unnoticed for many people in the United States, but it’s a great opporunity to teach our children how to do nice things for other people.
May Day wasn’t always an obscure, secular holiday. A thousand years ago, the Celtic pagans of the British Isles celebrated it as a cherished holiday that marked the beginning of the growing season. Pagans throughout medieval Europe made offerings to their gods and asked for a fertile year. There was communal feasting, and the youth danced around a Maypole, often the tallest hawthorne tree that could be found, stripped of its branches.
"If you’re anticipating fertile crops, you need to talk to the gods," says Anthony Aveni, PhD, an astronomy and anthropology professor at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., by way of explaining the holiday. "You need to cook up a deal with the gods."
May Day’s medieval popularity didn’t transfer to the Americas, according to Aveni, author of "The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Our Seasonal Holidays." The Roman Catholic Church, however, has long dedicated May to the Virgin Mary, and celebrates Mary on May 1 — effectively Christianizing the holiday.
Meanwhile, the Soviet Union put its socialist twist on May Day, using May 1 for trotting out its military might in parades marked by red flags and red flowers.
Interestingly, the holiday has had a secular resurgence in U.S. schools, where children learn about plant life while celebrating the traditional holiday.
"Maybe what goes around, comes around," says Aveni. "That’s the way holidays work — new ones are created out of old ones."
What’s a simple smile worth these days? Make a May Day basket with the kids and find out.
- Supplies you’ll need:
Construction paper in black or brown, yellow, white and blue; stapler; pipe cleaner; ribbon; tape or glue; pom-poms (optional); googly eyes (optional); hole punch (optional)
1. Starting at a corner, roll a sheet of black construction paper into a cone shape that’s large enough to hold goodies but secure at the bottom, so those goodies don’t fall through. Secure with tape.
2. Form antennae by folding a pipe cleaner in half, stapling the bend to the back side of the front of your cone, and curling each tip into an "antennae" shape.
3. Create stripes by wrapping torn strips of yellow paper around the cone and gluing them in place.
4. Cut out a heart from the white paper and either draw a face or create eyeballs with the googly eyes glued onto the pom-poms. Glue this face to the top of your cone shape.
5. Cut out wings from the blue paper and glue or tape to the back of the cone shape.
6. For a hanger, make holes in opposite sides of the cone about a half inch from the top. Thread a length of ribbon through the holes from inside the cone and knot each end inside the cone. Alternately, thread ribbon through the holes and knot at the top, then tie a bow.
7. Fill with whatever you have on hand: candy, flowers, small trinkets
(Directions adapted from FamilyFun.com)
Sturday can basket
- Supplies you’ll need:
A metal can, such as a large coffee can, clean and dry Paper Ribbon Markers and/or crayons
Decorating supplies: Small plastic flowers, pom-poms, ribbon, etc. (optional); glue or tape; drill, or heavy-duty tape (such as duct)
1. Drill a 3/8-inch hole on opposite sides of the can, half an inch from the top, and file any sharp edges around the holes. (Press lightly with the drill, allowing the drill bit to do the work, so you don’t dent the can.) Alternately, ignore this first step and proceed, planning to tape your ribbon to the insides of the can.
2. Cut a piece of paper to fit the outside of the can with about an inch of overlap. Decorate this paper with markers, crayons and small doodads, if using. Glue or tape paper to the can.
3. Thread ribbon through the holes, knotting at either side. Alternately, tape the ribbon to the inside of the can (but know this is a less-sturdy method).
4. Fill with flowers and a small amount of water, if desired.