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Happy May Day to our Neighbors

May 28, 2011
rehearsing at the house

rehearsing at the house

Mari leaving flowers on a neighbor's step

Mari leaving flowers on a neighbor's step

“You’re just in time for May Day!” my housemate announced.

I had forgotten she had plans to celebrate the day. Where I was raised in the Southern United States, people did not celebrate May Day. I have faint recollections of my mother who was raised in the northern Midwest helping us make paper May Day baskets to give to our friends who were grateful for the candy but perplexed by the purpose.

“What did you do on May Day as a child?” I asked my housemate and her friends who had gathered on our sunny back step.

“We left flowers on peoples’ doorsteps, rang the doorbell, then ran and hid.”

Today’s festivities would also involve flowers, but rather than hiding, we would serenade the recipients with live music. Our repertoire consisted the classics “You Are My Sunshine” and “Keep on the Sunny Side of Life”, a teddy bear garden song, and our own rendition of “Happy May Day” sung to the tune of “Happy Birthday”.

Roaming Band

Roaming Band


Sunshine seemed to have improved neighbors’ reception to our songs, in contrast to Christmas caroling when several people shut the door on us or yelled they were in the shower. About halfway through our escapade, neighbors began directing us to the next house.

“Go across the street. They’re having a party in the backyard and will love it!”

“Visit the blue house with the white trim. They just had a baby and will want to hear some music.”

“Make sure you visit the yellow house on the corner. The widow who lives there recently lost her husband.”

Following their leads resulted in warm receptions and free beverages at two barbecues with an invite to dinner at the latter. One man followed us out to the sidewalk and explained how he was a historian who was excited to see people commemorating a mostly forgotten holiday. Another woman informed us that a neighbor on our street had called her upon arriving home and discovering the flowers we left on her doorstep. She had been to a parade commemorating her late husband and finding the flowers when she returned had been a special gift to her.


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