may day basket idea with potted plant may day basket tradition
gardening and landscape,  holidays

May Day Basket Tradition – Did You Do This As A Kid?

Did you participate in the May Day Basket Tradition as a kid? I did!

May Day is always May 1st.

As a kid, I thought it was the best thing EVER to leave a small bouquet hanging on our neighbor’s door, knock, run away giggling, and try to hide before they answered the door.

I can’t tell you what the flowers were but they could have been dandelions. I’m unsure if we always hung the bouquet on the door. My brother and I might have just left flowers on the front porch and then skedaddled out of there.

It was the thrill of doing something nice but being sneaky that I remember the most.

Ah, to be young and carefree!

Now I’m decidedly not young and carefree only when I meticulously plan room in my schedule for that. Ha!

purple tulips in basket on the happy list

Historically, May Day was an agricultural celebration, as many celebrations were. It was the halfway point between the spring equinox and the summer solstice.

Have you heard of dancing around the maypole? That came out of May Day celebrations. The ancient Celts used a real tree as the center of their merrymaking and prayers for a good crop yield. This later transitioned into an actual pole in villages that could be decorated by the community for the celebration.

It occurs to me that we’ve become so disconnected from how and where our food is grown that maybe getting back to having agricultural celebrations would be a good thing. Celebrate those farmers and all the people working to bring food to our stores! Learn about the impact of weather and climate on our food security. Throw in some good food and I’ll be there.

may day basket ideas may day basket tradition

Like many English and European traditions, May Day eventually made its way across the pond to America. Up until the 1950s, maypole dances and other May Day celebrations became a tradition on U.S. college campuses.

Did you know June weddings became a popular time to marry because if you met the right person around the maypole, you could marry six weeks later on June’s Midsummer Day? I’m not so sure meeting and marrying within six weeks is prudent, but cultural customs were different hundreds of years ago.

Mrs. Coolidge gets a basket of flowers and a kiss 1927 via Library of congress may day basket tradition

(image: First Lady Grace Coolidge receives a May Day basket, 1927 | Library of Congress)

Some cultural customs change and others end. I don’t know why May Day as a celebration died off in the United States but I’m sure it was a combination of factors.

Even if the tradition of May Day baskets has gone by the wayside, it still seems like a good excuse to buy yourself and maybe a friend some flowers! Since modern front door hardware doesn’t always  facilitate hanging items from the handle, it’s a chance to get creative about the flowers you gift. Instead of a bouquet, you can always go the potted plant route.

Anything you gift is sure to bring a smile to someone’s day.

Did you participate in the May Day basket tradition as a kid? I’d love to know. You can always comment on this blog post, email us here, or reach out via Instagram or Facebook.

Happy May Day!

Great resources on May Day that I drew on for this blog post.

May Day | Almanac

A Forgotten Tradition – May Basket Day | NPR

Fun May Day Basket Ideas | BHG

Thanks for hanging out with me today! I hope you had a good time. If you’d like more flower ideas, I’ve got you covered. Check out one of these. 

Flower Basket Centerpiece with actual basket

Riveter Tool Turned Into a Flower Hanging Basket

How To Make Wood Heart Planters













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  • Pamela

    I didn’t participate in May Day baskets as a kid but started doing it for my gardener friends years ago. Now I do it for my neighbors who have pretty yards in appreciation for the beauty they provide for us neighbors. I don’t ring and run, too old for that as I’d be caught anyway 😝. I just thank them when they open the door then I skidadle. Usually I make paper cones with ribbon hangers but this year I’m simplifying by using small jars filled with my garden flowers and some from the grocers. I did not know the lore about June weddings following May Day.

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