May Day in Britain was first celebrated in 1978 with a Bank Holiday on the first Monday in May. Celebrations these days revolve round dancing, singing and drinking and of course cake. Originally it arose to mark the historical struggles and gains of workers in the 1890’s. They were fighting for an 8 hour working day. In the past they had been exploited by their bosses. Maypoles were just part of the festivities, though they are really seen these days. Today it is an excuse for having fun, though our fun will be limited this year.
The word ‘mayday’ has quite another meaning for many. It was first used as an emergency destress signal in 1920. Any sailor or pilot will shudder on hearing the words ‘mayday, mayday.’