May Day, May Baskets, and Maypoles!

One of many beautiful baskets you\'ll see May lst.We have a blackboard posted on the wall for inspirational messages at our office at What’s Up? Publishing. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door. Currently someone has inquired, “What are your favorite things about May?” The responses have included Cinco de Mayo, crabbing season, and warm weather. My entry on the board was May baskets and May Day.
My relationship with May Day goes back to elementary school. May Day was the big outdoor pageant we held every year and it was an important school tradition. Every year a theme was selected and each class performed with a song and a dance while siblings and parents watched from the folding chairs set out on the school lawn. The grand finale was the May Pole dance performed by the sixth graders. (This was back in the days before middle school and elementary school went up through sixth grade.) I would enviously watch the girls, with wreaths of flowers in their hair, dressed in pretty spring dresses, holding a piece of the maypole ribbon and weaving it in and out as they danced with their male partner around the tall pole bedecked with colored ribbons and topped with flowers. I couldn’t wait until I was in sixth grade and got to do the maypole dance. I can still hear the theme music in my head, the pianist would play on the old upright they’d wheel outside, as we proudly marched to our seats. After the pageant we’d enjoy refreshments that included peppermint sticks stuck inside of lemons, that tasted delicious and made your hands very sticky. After the picture taking, and the hugs from proud parents, we’d gather our costumes in large brown paper bags and go home, basking in the glory of our theatrical performance.
Unfortunately the theme the school picked the year I was in sixth grade focused on Nessie the Loch Ness Monster, recently sighted in Scotland. An exciting tale that included a giant prehistoric sea serpent, the Maypole dancers took the role of being the local Scottish lads and lassies. This meant that instead of wearing a pretty dress, the lassies wore drab plaid kilts as did the lads. Even less romantic then missing out on flowers in my hair was the fact that my dance partner was a girl, because we had several more girls than boys in my class.
Blackboard at What\'s Up? Publishing Fast forward to my arrival in Annapolis where I encountered the tradition of May baskets
What a treat to walk downtown and feast your eyes on one after another of beautiful baskets of flowers placed on gates and doorways. I immediately had to make my own. Not that I do it the way you should, strictly with cut flowers. Most of the time, I cheat by placing a pot of geraniums or petunias in the center of the basket and then add sprigs of lilac, flowering cherry, and azalea from my garden. My short cut is of little consequence because I can’t officially enter into the yearly contest held by the Garden Club of Old Annapolis Towne. I live just outside the judging area. But I also hate to see flowers die so soon and you have to be very skillfull to keep the floral foam hydrated and your cut flowers living in sunshine and warm weather for more than a few days. For information about how to make your own May Basket.
Don’t have time to make a May basket of your own? You can buy one as early as 8:30 a.m. from the Four River Garden Club, in time to hang on your door before 10 a.m. when the Garden Club of Old Annapolis Towne judges start making their rounds. Locally grown perennials, sweet-smelling herbs, colorful annuals, and freshly baked sweets and breads will also be sold at the Four Rivers sale set up in the downtown City Dock area.
If you have a child under 12 , encourage them to make a May Basket and it they live in the Historic District along with parts of the Murray Hill neighborhood they will receive a pink ribbon and lollipop. In order to participate in the Old Towne Garden Club contest, all basket entries must contain a name and address card and children’s baskets should list age as well. Other contests and diisplay are now taking place in the neighborhoods of Eastport, Presidents Hill, West Annapolis. Take a stroll on May first and see what you find!

Published by Nadja Maril

Nadja Maril is a communications professional who has over 10 years experience as a magazine editor. A writer and journalist, Maril is the author of several books including: "American Lighting 1840-1940", "Antique Lamp Buyer's Guide", "Me, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat", and "Runaway, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat". Her short stories and essays have been published in several small online journals including Lunch Ticket, Change Seven, Scarlet Leaf Review and Defunkt Magazine. She has an MFA in creative writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. Former Editor-in-Chief of What's Up ? Publishing, former Editor of Chesapeake Taste Magazine a regional lifestyle magazine based in Annapolis, and former Lighting Editor of Victorian Homes Magazine, Maril has written hundreds of newspaper and magazines articles on a variety of subjects..

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