Wednesday, April 30, 2014

May Baskets

Children, chances are that were I to say "May basket" you would have no clue.  Here you go, then.  It was in the deep, dark recesses of time past, in that time before there were smart phones, that time before television.  Yes, my dears, there was such a time, and I was eyewitness to that age.  What did one do with himself?  Heavens to Murgatroyd, life must have been a drag.

So you might think.  But that was not the case at all.  Children living in a neighborhood, and that could encompass an area of several square blocks, would gather together and play.  Play?  Yes, play. They would organize themselves, themselves, I tell you, into teams and get up a game of softball. They would play hide-and-go-seek, Red Rover, kick-the-can, or, oh, there were so many games to play!  Quieter activities might include marbles or jacks, hopscotch, I Spy, but now you once again have no clue.

Then on a mid-Spring day we would celebrate May Day.  While the adolescent children might focus on dressing in spring finery and twirling round a Maypole, the younger set would engage in innocent and artistic activities such as the preparation of May baskets.

First, one gets his (or her) crayons, paper, and mucilage.  Nevermind, school paste will do.  After one has made the basket, she (or he) gathers some nice fresh, green grass with which to line the basket.  Then the flowers are gathered.  First of May.  Perhaps a jonquil, if there is one in our own yard-- never steal garden flowers from a neighbor.  Otherwise, some nice, bright dandelions.  A few violets.  See them there, springing up in the grass?  Perhaps some blossoms from the crabapple tree.  Arrange these pretties in the basket.  Now you are ready.

Right after supper and just before dark, twilight, I think it is, we select (in our mind) the recipient of the basket.  We slip across the street, up the sidewalk, and go to the front door of the house.  We hang the basket carefully on the doorknob, or if that is not possible, we set it carefully on the porch in front of the door.  Then, and this is key, then we KNOCK loudly and RUN off the porch and hide behind the hedge were we can watch, but not be seen.

The perplexed householder will look around, look down, espy the basket, and a beautiful smile will brighten his or her countenance!  Or so we hope.

A successful and happy May Day!

Kids, on the next page there are pictorial directions for building a May Basket!


1. Sheet of paper, lay out basket.

2.  Cut and fold.  Decorate.  Be imaginative; your basket can be much prettier than mine.  Crayons, pens, or even paint!

3.  Assemble basket.  Tabs may be fastened with paste or staples.

4.  Collect grass and flowers; arrange.  TA! DA!

Happy May Day to you and your friend who receives the basket!

8 comments:

Lin said...

We never made May baskets, but my neighbor did little cones one year for us. It was really sweet. We need more of this sorta stuff...not less. I miss the good old days.

I really miss the block I grew up on--there were so many kids! There were something like 22 boys and me. No, I didn't get a date out of the bunch--I was their lumpy little "sister" and bore the brunt of their boyhood shenanigans. But, you could go out and sit on the corner curb and wait....and minutes later, everyone would come out to hang too. We'd play all those games you listed and more....all under the streetlight. We were friends with the neighborhood cop and he'd stop to just talk to us all. Criminy, it was like Mayberry. Good times.

vanilla said...

Lin, "Those were the days, my friend, we thought they'd never end." Alas, no one is a forever-child. Oh, except maybe Peter Pan.

Vee said...

This post brought back wonderful memories of my childhood.

The first May Day after we moved to Indiana, 6-year-old little sis was very disappointed when she got the "what in the world are you doing" reaction to delivering May baskets.

Loved growing up in Colorado!

Sharkbytes said...

I remember doing May baskets. Since we lived in the country the opportunities were limited, but I remember doing it a few times.

Shelly said...

I remember my grandma talking about May baskets. That's a tradition I'm sorry we've lost. Loved the directions~

Secondary Roads said...

A boy just down the block from where I grew up, put a fresh cow plop in a paper bag. He put the bag on the front porch, set it alight, rang the doorbell and ran. He hoped the residents would try to stamp out the fire. However, the fire went out before someone came to the door.

No, I had no part it that drama. I tell it as a second-hand story.

Grace said...

We did the Maypole dance thing - crepe paper dye all over everything, boys messing up the in and outs and over and unders - May baskets - nope never did that.

vanilla said...

Vee, different people, different traditions. Remember the “wickedness” of drinking pop?

Sharkey, limited opportunity, yet you had the experience!

Shelly, all a matter of the definition of “fun," I guess. The technocrats have turned today’s kids into a bunch of mouse-clicking, button-mashing automatons. (Go ahead; make someone a May basket!)

Chuck, nasty trick, not at all in the spirit of May Day.
(That’s been pulled in our community, too. I had nothing to do with it.)

Grace, crepe paper and a bit of dampness: a bad combination. Of course it was the boys who messed up the Maypole Dance—that’s what we do, little klutzes that we are.