May Day ‘Mayday!’: What Will You Do?

Today is the first day of May. In many cultures “May Day” heralds the lively festival of Pagan origin celebrating life and the renewal of the earth. The holiday is not widely celebrated in the USA. But, Happy May Day anyway!

Here in Utah we are appropriately enjoying a glorious, sunny spring morning. There will be sunny blue skies and high temperatures. I began my “celebration” by stopping at the car wash on my way to work for a little automobile TLC. [Ahhh…nothing like a clean car! Let’s see how long it lasts!]

I was thinking about the interesting juxtaposition of “May Day”, a joyful international holiday, versus  “Mayday!”, an international cry of distress. The two seem diametrically opposed. And yet, this morning I actually realized a symbiotic relationship.


Dancing Around the Maypole, credit:

A perusal of Wikipedia lists all kinds of fun traditional festivities held on this day in different nations. All have a similar theme; going outside, enjoying nature, dancing, singing, laughing and spending time with family and friends.

May Day is most associated with towns and villages celebrating springtime fertility (of the soil, livestock, and people) and revelry with village fetes and community gatherings. – Wikipedia

Or, in other words, May Day is a celebration for HOPE in the renewal of life and love.


The origin of the word Mayday comes from the French word m’aidez (pronounced in English similarly).

Mayday!! credit:

Mayday literally translates to “help me”. It’s the common distress signal used by ships and aircraft.

Because of this, mayday evokes “helplessness” or “desperation”.

But, here is a different perspective:

“People tend to cry mayday when they’ve reached their own personal threshold of despair. Why wait until we hit that point of desperation? Why not see the word mayday as an everyday request for help? Why not cry mayday for the small things like help with the laundry or with a report that is due? It is possible. We can view the intimidating act of asking for help as a gesture of hope and optimism and not one of despair and misery.”

– M. Nora Klaver, Mayday!: Asking for Help in Times of Need

Or, in other words, the cry of ‘Mayday’ offers the chance for HOPE in the renewal of life and love.

'Helping Hands' - coming to the rescue, credit
‘Helping Hands’ – coming to the rescue, credit

This week the southern USA has experienced heart-wrenching cries of ‘mayda’y. Extreme weather and tornadoes have claimed at least 34 lives and wreaked mass destruction. Among the news reports of helplessness and hopelessness also come words of hope.

“I am overwhelmed – of course the damage is overwhelming, but the outpouring of people to help lend a land is overwhelming, too” – Tulepo resident,

Celebrate Hope – Give and Receive Help

Today offers us a chance to celebrate HOPE. Whether that means giving it, or receiving it. So, here’s my completely made-up and unofficial May Day Challenge:

What can you do today to celebrate HOPE?

1. Is there something you need help with? = ASK!

2. Is there someone you can help? = GIVE!

– MoSop

 “Have I Done Any Good?” Alex Boye and Carmen Rasmusen Herbert

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