MAY You Enjoy the Month

Posted in: Club Newsletter, Featured, In The News, Reflections Articles

by Drew Edmondson

“Though April showers may come your way

 They bring the flowers that bloom in May”

May Day has been celebrated in the northern hemisphere for thousands of years.  It celebrates the mid-point between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice and the fertility of the earth that is cultivated and the animals that share our space.  In Gaelic countries the festival was known as Beltane or Bealtaine and was celebrated with bonfires and yellow flowers.

In Rome the May Day celebrations were called Floralia, named for the goddess Flora, and were meant to acknowledge fertility of all things.  Hares and goats were set loose in the streets because they had a certain reputation in such matters.  It is believed that Maypoles originated in these celebrations, the taller the better.  Colorful ribbons were attached to the top and people danced around the pole, entwining the ribbons in colorful patterns.

It should be noted that these celebrations were in the northern hemisphere only because in the southern hemisphere this time marked the beginning of winter.   That was not a particular time for celebration unless you were a polar bear.

In many countries May 1 is also a day to celebrate workers.  In Russia it is International Workers Day and is marked with parades and celebrations.  A week or so later, May 9, Russia celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.  The events on this day are marked by military parades and shows of military might, tanks and soldiers.  Partly because of this, in the United States, during the Cold War, May Day festivities were downplayed.  In this country Labor Day, in September, is when worker contributions are celebrated and have been since 1894.

“May Day”, typically repeated three times, is an international distress call, particularly for aircraft and ships in peril, but it has nothing to do with the May Day celebrations except pronunciation.  The distress call is from the French “m’aidez”, or “help me”.  It is the verbal equivalent of S.O.S.

S.O.S., when it was agreed upon by the International Radio Telegraphic Convention in 1906 as a distress call was just a distinctive Morse code sequence and not an abbreviation.  It was …—…, dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot or dit dit dit dah dah dah dit dit dit, depending on how they pronounced it in your scout troup.   Later “backronyms” were created such as “Save Our Ship” or “Save Our Souls”.  Thanks to Rotary, some of us may have learned a new word in “backronym”.

Rotary Club 29’s May schedule has brought some excellent programs but it will be hard to top the four First Ladies of Oklahoma who spoke on a panel on May 14.  Donna Nigh, Rhonda Walters, Cathy Keating and Kim Henry spoke candidly about their experiences in the Governor’s Mansion and their projects and particular interests as First Ladies.  Having gotten their husbands elected, they each carved out areas where they made lasting differences for the betterment of our state.  With David Walters serving as moderator the First Ladies made you proud to be an Oklahoman and a Rotarian.

Another good thing about May is that according to Article V, Section 26 of the Oklahoma Constitution, regular sessions of the Legislature shall be “adjourned sine die not later than five o’clock on the last Friday in May of each year.”  Prior to the adoption of this amendment to Article V, the Legislature was limited to a number of days to be in session and it was a common practice if work was continuing on the last day to “cover the clock” and continue working into the next day or days.  The amendment ended that practice.

Unfortunately, this year the last Friday in May is the 31st so we get no break.



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