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Holidays In May - A Guide to Holidays in May (US Edition) - May 1: May Day

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Here is an in-depth guide to all of the major holidays during the month of May.

May 1: May Day

May Day is celebrated all around the world in varying ways. Most places celebrate it as a celebration of laborers and workers the world over. It also has some links to Northern European pagan festivals. Have you heard of the “Maypole”? This came from a Medieval tradition where a “Queen of the May” was chosen from a group of the town’s prettiest girls, and she danced with the townspeople around a pole decorated with streamers and Spring flowers.

In some regions of the U.S., “May Baskets” were made to celebrate May Day. They would be filled with flowers and gifts and left on someone’s doorstep. The giver would ring the bell and run away, but if the receiver caught them, tradition dictated that a kiss should be exchanged!

While you don’t hear much about the holiday nowadays, it’s worth paying attention to. Try adapting some May Day traditions in your own home to welcome the Spring season – it can be a lot of fun!

Tuesday in the First Full Week of May: National Teachers Day

While the origins of this holiday are murky, National Teachers Day has become a special day to honor the teachers in your life. Even if you’re not in school any more, send a note to the teacher that really made a difference in your life.

May 5: Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the legendary victory of the underdog Mexican army against invading French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. But many in the US don’t know this – for most people, it’s a day to eat tacos and drink margaritas!

All joking aside, the Cinco de Mayo has become an integral cultural holiday in the US akin to St. Patrick’s Day or the Chinese New Year. Many Americans take the opportunity to celebrate Mexican culture and its wide influence on the US.

Second Sunday in May: Mother’s Day

Mother’s day is celebrated worldwide as a day to honor mothers and motherhood. In the US, it is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. Don’t let the date take you by surprise! More than chocolates or greeting cards, take this day to show the mothers in your life that they are truly appreciated. (That said, many mothers do appreciate chocolates and greeting cards, too).

May 12: Nurses Day

International Nurses Day is actually the closing of a week-long celebration of nurses around the world and their efforts to bring health and comfort to those in need. May 12th is also Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

Third Saturday in May: Armed Forces Day

Most countries have a day set apart to celebrate the men and women of the armed forces. In the US, it’s held on the third Saturday in May. It is the culmination of Armed Forces Week, where the five branches of military are celebrated: the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. Take a minute to honor members of the armed forces in your own life, or if you don’t have any, perform an act of service for one that you don’t know.

Last Monday of May: Memorial Day

Memorial Day honors US soldiers who have died in the line of duty. It was first enacted to honor Union soldiers that fell during the American Civil War, but after World War I it was extended to honor Americans who died in all wars. Many families visit graves of their fallen soldier relatives to leave flowers and flags at the grave site. You can also take part in a national moment of remembrance at 3 pm local time.

That’s it for this guide to major holidays in May. May your May celebrations be full of great springtime memories!

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