Seven cultures that celebrate May Day

May Day, 1 May, First of May, maypole, Roman, Greek, International Workers Day, Labour Day, Flora, Maia, Maja, Protomagia, Lei Day, Morris DancingFor some reason, the first of May has taken on huge cultural significance in countries and cultures across the world. Here are seven cultures that have embraced the day.

1. Celtic cultures. The traditional British May Day celebrations are thought to derive from Beltane, a festival that finds it roots in Celtic and Gaelic cultures, which celebrates the transition between winter and summer.

2. Germany. A tradition in Germany is to send your loved one a symbol of your affection on May Day. In the Rhineland especially, men can send women a tree with streamers attached, with the women allowed to return the gesture in leap years.

3. Hawaii. Lei Day is celebrated annually in Hawaii as a celebration of Hawaiian culture. The island’s people dress up in decorated outfits, while festivities include hula dancing and, of course, lei making and wearing.

4. English. May Day is a festival widely celebrated in rural England, with the May Pole the centrepiece to the occasion. This used to be a tree with ribbons hung off it, which children could grab hold of and dance around. Another famous English May Day tradition is Morris Dancing.

5. Greece. The festival of Protomagia is celebrated on 1 May. This annual event honours Maja, who is the Greek goddess who represents mothering, nursing and growth. May is seen as the last month of spring and Greeks celebrate that by decorating houses with flower wreaths.

6. Romans. Flora is the Roman goddess of the spring and Romans would make her offerings of milk and honey to celebrate her and ensure the summer would bring good weather.

7. Worldwide. 1 May was chosen as the official date for International Workers Day, a day to celebrate the hard work and achievements of the working classes’ battle in bringing about the eight-hour working day. It is a public holiday in over 80 countries.