May 1, 2013

May Poles, May Baskets and May Crowing

May 1st, often called May Day is the celebration of spring, May Poles, May Baskets, and the May Crowning of Mary were activities that would take place on this day, but like many traditions/celebration they are being celebrated less and less.

Mrs. Coolidge receiving a 
May basket in 1927
Library of Congress vintage photo collection
Mrs. Roosevelet with her 
May basket in 1938
Library of Congress vintage photo collection
Dancing around the May pole
Library of Congress vintage photo collection
Library of Congress vintage photo collection
Crowning of the May Queen 
during a May Day festival in 1925
Library of Congress vintage photo collection

The crowning of Mary, is a celebration that continues in the Catholic church, but with less splendor of years gone by.

These next photos are of my cousin Lorraine who was selected to crowned Mary in the 40's. It was a huge honor to be selected to participate in the May procession, but the greatest honor was to be the one who placed the crown on the statue of Mary. The quality of these photos are poor because still photos were taken from an old family film. My cousin is the one with the long veil holding the pillow with the flower crown.

As you can see, the May procession of the crowning of Mary, was well attended by our Polish community and was a very special day. 
Unfortunately, there is not film or photos from the inside of the church during the crowning. 

Today in many Catholic churches this beautiful tradition continues with less fan fare, but with the same reverence.

Oh Mary, we crown you with blossoms today,
Queen of the Angels, Queen of the May.

Immaculate Mary, your praises we sing.
You reign now in heaven with Jesus our King.
Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria! Ave, Ave, Maria!


  1. I have never been to a May pole celebration. Never seen any held here in the west.

  2. They do maypole dancing in a village near us, usually on the mayday monday though.

  3. Whilst we made baskets and filled them wildflowers and small candies to give to female relatives/friends we certainly didn't have such elaborate or lovely celebrations. What lovely memories you share!

  4. Quite a different response from Mrs. Coolidge than from Mrs. Roosevelt. lol We always made May baskets when I was a kid - out of construction paper and then filled them with springing beauties and candy. Sometimes at school we had a May pole dance. What fun!

  5. We have May 1st field days at elementary schools where children have a picnic, play tug-of-war, three legged races, burlap bag hop/race and at the end the teachers have a water balloon toss! May Day has certainly changed through the years. I love the idea of the baskets filled with flowers! Wonderful photos!

  6. I just love May Day. When my kids were younger we filled baskets with candy and flowers and they dropped them off on the neighbors' doorsteps, just like I did as a child.

    Wonderful post. I enjoyed the photos very much.