We’ve lived through New Year’s, both standard and Chinese, the Year of the Rat; Ground Hog Day is behind us as well as Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras. Indeed, we are moving on in 2020 rolling down the holidays. Now that it’s March, what lies ahead?
I see green for St. Patrick’s Day. Corned beef and cabbage call out to my part-Irish heart. The first official day of spring is March 21. Ash Wednesday was last week. Yay, Lent and fish. I love Lent and am such a bad Catholic, but I, like my brother, Arch, love fish. Lent is supposed to be contemplative time of conscience examination. It is somewhat akin to Yom Kippur for our Jewish brothers and sisters. Reflection on one’s life is always good. And when you have fish as well—well, it is terrific. Lent means 40 days of fish sandwiches and bargains at the seafood counter of Smith’s.
Back to spring. When Lent is over we have Easter, which most Christians celebrate on the early Roman date. This year it will be April 12. Our Greek and Russian Orthodox siblings celebrate a little later and this year it will be April 19. No matter which Sunday you celebrate it, it is a glorious celebration of renewed life and salvation. Marshmallow Peeps don’t hurt either. Joyful Easter baskets and egg hunts rule the day. Judy Garland gave a secular song to this party with, “In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it.” I love the fact you can now get Peeps all year round. They dye them to match the celebration!
Easter baskets remind me of May baskets, and they opened an old wound for me. We had a special festival in Iowa farm country. This event was stolen from us, and I hold a grudge. Heck, it was not only stolen from us, it was stolen from Northern Europe where the holiday began. It predates Christianity, but we adopted it and incorporated it into our schools. MAY DAY!
Started in Europe, May 1 was a holiday for lovers, or potential ones. Your maidens would pack a picnic with their best efforts in cooking. Young single knights would vie for the opportunity to sit and share a meal. Ahhhh! Love! At home we used this day to return the favors of home-made goodies we collected at Halloween. While our Moms made little cupcakes, brownies or candy, we gathered wildflowers growing along the roads and in among the trees. We added those to the baskets and delivered them to houses we had hit up for candy.
It was a win-win situation for kids. People always asked you in and so we got more cake and candy. Great deal, yes? And at school, Corpus Christi Catholic, the good sisters set up a May altar with a statue of the Blessed Mary on it. We were encouraged to raid our parent’s gardens for Bridal Wreath, Lilacs, Peony, Snowballs and Irises. It was spectacular. We sang traditional songs of spring and then the best, most beautiful, well behaved, and perfect little girl, age 13, got to put a crown of flowers on the statue, thus crowing the May. That little girl in a white dress amid all the rest in suits and ties for the boys and pastel dresses for the girls was Queen of the May.
Guess what? It was never me…sob…sob. So, I am mad because those dirty, rotten, scheming, Russian Commies stole our holiday. The International Workers took over May 1 and had parades in Red Square and did not crown the May. The tanks were in the way. In 1955 Pope Pius XII, chose May 1 as the Feast Day of Joseph the worker. I should be pleased since that is my Patron Saint, but he doesn’t wear a flowered crown.
Oh, I do have a granddaughter, Victoria, who is 13. She could come to my house and crown my statue of Mary in my front yard. She will have to heal up a little. Last Sunday she hit a tree while skiing up in Colorado. But by May 1 she ought to be healed where she clobbered that tree. It will never grab helpless girls again. Lucky Queen of the May, Victoria, can get a white dress and be perfect. Love you. Roaring Mouse, picking flowers out for my May Queen.
From 1966 to 1971, Jo attended the University of New Mexico and Memphis State University, earning degrees in Communications, English, Journalism, Speech and Drama with history minors. At UNM, her hero was Tony Hillerman. She taught high school and middle school in city, country, and private schools for 30 years. Roaring Mouse is in its 25 th year. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org