Monday, May 03, 2010

Did You Get May Day'ed?

When I was growing up in northwestern Minnesota in the '70s and '80s, the first day of May meant May baskets. I have learned that this tradition does not exist in all parts of the country, so I'll explain for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about. On May 1st, children make little baskets (we used flower-printed Dixie cups, with a pipe cleaner attached to each side of the rim as a basket handle) and fill them with candy (I've also heard flowers). Then they deliver them to friends in their neighborhood, but the fun part is in the surprise. You're supposed to hang them on the doorknob or leave them on the front stoop, ring the doorbell, and run away before the person answering the door can see who you are. You don't sign your name to the basket or include a note. It's just a little spring surprise. Fun!

I had forgotten all about May Day and May baskets until last year. For some reason it seems like May baskets aren't the common childhood tradition they used to be. But last May, some little friends of my daughters surprised us by leaving paper cones filled with candy on our front doorknob. (They did sign their names.) I decided then and there that the next year, I was going to be that mom too, the mom who revives May baskets for her kids.

On Friday afternoon after nap, the girls and I filled ten miniature flower-and-polka-dot-printed gift bags with a bit of paper grass and a handful of candies and treats. On Saturday morning we drove around town and walked to our neighbors, leaving May baskets for our nearby friends. We rang doorbells and ran, but no one was home so it didn't matter. But boy was it fun, walking my daughters up to front doors and supervising the leaving of the treats, having them ring the bell, then yelling, "Run! Run!" and watching them dash down the walk in excitement.

We ran into one family at whose house we'd just left two baskets, leaving baskets at the home of another family where we were delivering baskets too. And during the morning we received baskets at our front door from two families also. It seems that doing May baskets with your kids is the new Northfield-mom thing. I love it. I love my town. I'm not the best mom or even good enough some of the time, but I'm glad I'm one of those moms. It's fun and sweet, and it's a good way to celebrate spring.


Anne said...

I only learned about this tradition this weekend! We came home to a couple of baskets hanging on our front door knob; what fun! I agree, it's a really fun tradition and this is a great town to live in with a family. Next year we want to join the May day'ing circus! :)

Angel said...

I agree! I love this town! I am so glad to know moms who appreciate the little things that make kids so happy. :) Thank you for reminding me of this sweet tradition! Makes me appreciate my Mom for doing such cute things when I was little, and I'm so excited to give my kids those memories too!

Donna said...

I've never heard of this before! Sounds like fun.

Years ago, we were visiting friends around Halloween and they were 'ghosted.' Someone put a ghost on their door, left them some candy, and instructions to do it to someone else in the neighborhood who didn't have a ghost on their door. So, we did it (rang the doorbell and ran away, per the instructions). SO much fun. And that was before we had kids. I can only imagine how much more fun it would be with kids!