4 May 2010

May Day

I went to a college in the US with a Welsh name and which still carried on many of the British traditions- college robes, fur on the collar at graduation, and May Day. At Bryn Mawr, my undergraduate college, May Day was a wonderful combination of Wimbledon and a country town May Day fete. We would start the day off with strawberries and cream (like Wimbledon), have a parade, dance around the May pole and have a general festival all day out on the green (like a town fete).

Some of the towns in the British countryside still have festivals for the May day celebration, which is also a bank holiday weekend in the UK. I get the feeling that in London it is more of a long weekend than a true celebration anymore and most people just appreciate the extra day of sleeping in and hope for enough sun to sit in the garden.

There is another meaning behind May Day that I never knew until I moved here- the day of worker strikes and protests. This may happen more on the European continent than here, but on Saturday (May Day as in May 1st) there was a huge protest march of British workers and unions through central London as it is a traditional thing to do for May Day. Maybe they chose May because it was better weather than other months? Maybe it is the double meaning of May Day that is too good to pass up for protest signs? I don't know the history of the worker protests on May Day, but I do know that I was trying to get across London on Saturday and the protests made that incredibly difficult.

In amongst the worker prostests and town fetes, I brought a little bit of the Bryn Mawr May Day festival to London this year, carrying on from another alumna's celebration last year. Although it was supposed to be in a park, the weather did not cooperate and I ended up hosting a small gathering of alumnae at my flat. We had strawberries and cream, champagne and owl sugar cookies and were going to watch The Philadelphia Story, another Bryn Mawr May Day tradition, but never had the time.

I saw an owl cookie cutter (and teapot) a year or so ago and snatched it up to make these cookies.

I love sugar cookies anyway, though in my family we usually reserved them for Christmas cookies and I did not get to eat them a lot. As my school's mascot is an owl, here was a perfect opportunity for owl cookies!

I also got a bit crafty and decorated with white icing.

Even though my time in London has changed me more than I can ever change it, I like to think that I am bringing a little bit of me and what I know to at least a few people here, and sharing my May Day is part of that.

1 comment:

  1. I think the reason most Americans don't know about May Day as a labor movement day is because the government intentionally created Labor Day in September to try to draw attention away from the "real" labor day in May. I'm serious--this is not a conspiracy theory. :-)
    People who are active in the radical left (ahem) still remember!
    May Day is such an all-purpose holiday, lol.
    love you, dear being--I miss BMC's may day too.