May 1st, otherwise known as May Day, has been celebrated by Europeans and Americans for hundreds of years. In pre-Christian societies, May Day celebrated the rebirth and fertility that occurred during springtime. May Day celebrations originally sprang from the Roman festival honoring Floralia, the goddess of flowers. Over time May Day became a Christian-based holiday in which people would anonymously leave baskets of flowers on their neighbor’s doorsteps as a sign of goodwill and friendship. Many European and American communities held May Day celebrations in which children danced around a tall, wooden maypole, often decorated with colorful ribbons. A maypole is visible in the photograph of a May Day celebration being held in Kalispell in 1913.
The May Day celebrations of nature and springtime are immortalized in American poet, Ralph Waldo Emmerson’s 1914 poem entitled “May-Day and Other Pieces, Song of Nature.” Below is an excerpt from Emmerson’s “May-Day.”
“Wreaths for the May! for happy Spring
To-day shall all her dowry bring,
The love of kind, the joy, the grace,
Hymen of element and race,
Knowing well to celebrate
With song and hue and star and state,
With tender light and youthful cheer,
The spousals of the new-born year.
Spring is strong and virtuous
Broad-sowing, cheerful, plenteous,
Quickening underneath the mould
Grains beyond the price of gold.
So deep and large her bounties are,
That one broad, long midsummer day
Shall to the planet overpay
The ravage of a year of war.”
History of Arbor Day When pioneers J. Sterling Morton and his wife came to the Nebraska Territory in 1854 they immediately planted trees, shrubs, and other vegetation in their new home. Morton became the editor at one of Nebraska’s best newspapers. ... Read more.
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This week, millions of American flags will be raised across the country to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence 238 years ago. As my own small tribute to the founding fathers, I decided to take a look at Fort Missoula’s collec ... Read more.
This weekend, from June 27th through the 29th, Darby, Montana will be hosting the annual Forest Fire Lookout Association’s Western Regional Conference—perfect timing as we dive deeper into Fort Missoula’s own historic lookout with a real lookou ... Read more.