May Day, May Day

Who all celebrates May Day? Well, socialist and communists for starters. They commemorate what is known as the Haymarket Massacre, or Riot, and/or also Affair, which started out as a worker’s parade protesting the killing of workers striking for an eight hour work day, by the Chicago police, on May 3rd, 1886, the day before the riot. An anarchist threw a stick of dynamite at the police, who were breaking up the protest, killing seven officers. The remaining officers then opened fire on the protesters, killing 4 and wounding dozens more.

But that’s not what this quasi is about.

This quasi is about a pole with a knob on the end, the May Pole. It is about young maidens dancing in circles around the pole, festooning it with ribbons, starting with the knob at the top of the erect pole and ending at the bottom. It is about the Greek goddess, Chloris, after whom chlorophyll is named, and her Roman equivalent, Flora, after whom flowers are named. She’s the goddess of flowers and spring, and her festival ran from April 28th to May 3rd, and was called the Floralia.

The Floralia was celebrated with, to quote Wikipedia, “…five days of farces and mimes were enacted – ithyphallic, and including nudity when called for…”.

Ithyphallic, now there’s a word for you. Ithyphallic farces and mimes, farces and mimes enacted with phallic symbols, that is to say, enacted with poles with knobs on the end.

Later, in the year 870 of the common era, on May 1st, Pope Adrian II, in the common mode of Christian practice, scarfed up this joyful spring fertility festival from the pagans, and canonized an otherwise obscure English missionary nun. Her name was Walpurga, and Adrian made May 1st her day.

St. Walpurga… now why does that sound familiar? Let’s see, St. Walpurga’s day must be preceded by St. Walpurga’s eve, of course. Aha! Walpurgis night! One of the major nights that witches worship Satan! It’s also the Celtic Eve of Beltane. Beltane, one of the most holy days in the Druidic year! Anything pre-Christian had to be the devil’s work, so holy it up by reworking it into a Christian holiday.

But be sure to retain the pagan symbols, such as poles with knobs on the end.

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