The month of May is been named in honor of the goddess of death and fertility. Maia, one of the so-called mountain goddesses, who, along with her sisters was chased by Orion and turned into doves in order to keep them safe. On the first day of May, she was sacrificed by the Vulcan priest to a pregnant sow.
May Day is celebrated on May 1 in very different ways around the world. The ancient festival was called Beltane by the Celts, it is the Pagan celebration of the renewal of life and is possibly the oldest of all religious festivals in the northern hemisphere. Beltane was celebrated as the day which divided the year in half, with the other half being Samhain on November 1. Beltane was celebrated by setting a fire, which was thought to give life to the spring sun, after which cattle were chased through the fire for purification, and finally couples would walk through the smoke, which was said to give them good luck.
When the Romans occupied the British Isles, they celebrated Floralia, in honor of the goddess of flowers, Flora. The celebration lasted from April 28 to May 2, and the two festivals were eventually melded together. It was from this coupling of celebrations and rituals that the tradition of the maypole, or tree of life, was born.
The Library of Congress is in charge of the month-long celebration of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. The library offers its online resources about Asian Pacific American history and culture, which contain more than two million books, newspapers, and periodicals as well as manuscripts and electronic items. The month of May was chosen for the celebration because of its significance in Japanese-American history as May 7, 1843, was the first wave of Japanese immigration in the United States, and on May 10, 1869, the transcontinental railroad was completed, and the majority of those who built the tracks were Chinese immigrants.
The National Barbecue Association designates every May annual National Barbecue Month and it invites members, restaurateurs, and barbecue aficionados spend the month celebrating and promoting the flavor and fun of barbecuing by planning events and promoting sales.
More eggs are sold during the Easter season than any other time of the year. After that, sales take a nosedive, which is why National Egg Month was established in the month of May. Hens keep laying eggs after Easter, and so the price of eggs go down.
National Backyard Games Week is designed to bring families and friends together through fun outdoor activities. It is celebrated every year from the Monday before to Memorial Day to the Monday of Memorial Day. This year will be the seventh annual event and was started by a Beloit, Wisconsin, toy manufacturer.
This year, Memorial Day falls on May 25. Considered by many as the official beginning of summer, it is the first day that the fashion police allow women to wear white shoes. It is also the day that Americans observe the holiday that commemorates its servicemen and women who died while serving the United States. It was originally called Decoration Day and honored Union soldiers of the Civil War, though after World War I, it was expanded to include all American casualties of any military action. Americans across the country celebrate the long weekend with friends and family at picnics and barbecues.
Famous people with birthdays in May include Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Orson Welles, Emilio Estevez, Fred Astaire, Clint Eastwood, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Eva Peron, Harry S. Truman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Patrick Henry.
Additional resources for the month of May: