The brutal winter for much of the United States has begun to fade into memory, and May Day -- a celebration of springtime -- is nearly upon us. With the holiday set for May 1, the annual observation has interesting roots, including a history of both joyful revelry and determined protest. It also helps signal that spring has actually arrived.
If you're ready to put the winter in the rearview mirror and want to know more about May Day, below are seven brief facts to get you primed for the celebration:
May Day Likely Originated With The Greeks And Romans
The holiday perhaps sprang from a variety of ancient rituals as well as Greek and Roman agricultural traditions, says Encyclopedia Britannica. The Roman festival that honored Flora -- the goddess of springtime -- might have inspired May Day, CNN reports, and as Rome conquered other countries, the holiday spread.
The Celebration Has Shifted Since Roman Times
Medieval England was quite enthusiastic about May Day, birthing the tradition of dancing around a maypole, for which the holiday is well-known. The pole is decorated with flowers and streamers, and people dance around it in a circle. It's a joyful frolic to mark spring's arrival.
The Maypole Dance Has Meaning
The pole is said by many to represent masculinity, and the wreaths and ribbons that decorate it are said to represent femininity, according to the Mother Nature Network (MNN).
Puritans Ruined The Fun In America
May Day celebrates "fertility" and features some "frisky antics," according to MNN. That didn't fly with the United States' early Puritans. They thought of the day as "licentious and pagan," Encyclopedia Britannica says, and looked down on the holiday. Thus it didn't catch on in America as it has in other parts of the world.
The Morning Dew Is Good For A Facial
Tradition dictates that the morning dew on May 1 holds magical properties. Folklore says that rubbing the dew on your face can "remove spots, freckles and pimples," the Guardian reports. The traditional rhyme of the day is that if a maid rises early, collects dew, "[a]nd washes in dew from the hawthorn tree, / Will ever after handsome be."
May Day Used To Be Sweet
An old tradition that has since faded was the act of leaving May baskets for your neighbors, according to MNN. The baskets were filled with sweet treats and flowers.
There Is An Entirely Different Way Of Marking May Day
May 1 has become known as a day for protest, as well as a day for care-free frolic. May Day is also called International Workers Day in a number of countries and was started by socialists who met in Paris in 1889 and demanded an eight-hour work day, CNN reports. The day has since become popular for protests.