May Day 2021: When is it and why is it celebrated?

May Day 2021: When is it and why is it celebrated?
May Day 2021: When is it and why is it celebrated?
Do you know why, or how, people celebrate May Day? (Picture: Getty Images)

The month of May brings with it not one, but two bank holidays for us to enjoy, perhaps in a beer garden with a group of six friends.

The first early May bank holiday marks May Day, which has been celebrated across the world for over 2000 years.

Here is everything you need to know about May Day 2021, when it is and why we recognise it…

When is May Day 2021?

Male and female friends preparing food on barbecue while family having fun in backyard.
Many of us will be hoping to enjoy an outdoor barbecue over the bank holiday weekend (Picture: Getty Images)

May Day falls on May 1 every year, although people generally celebrate the day over the course of the early May bank holiday weekend.

The early May bank holiday takes place on May 3 this year.

Why do we celebrate May Day?

Children Dancing Around Maypole in a green field.
Some commeorate May Day by dancing around a Maypole and selecting a May Queen (Picture: Getty)

May Day is a public holiday that traditionally marks the arrival of spring.

In Roman times, they would commemorate the day with the Floralia – or Festival of Flora – Flora is the goddess of fruit and flowers.

This took place in late April/early May during that period of history.

Roman Catholics began observing May Day a little more recently in the 18th Century.

Devotions were made to the Virgin Mary – often in the form of floral crowns – May 1 is also a feast day for Mary’s husband St Joseph The Worker.

These days, some people celebrate May Day by crowning a May Queen and dancing around a maypole.

Yellow springtime daffodils in bloom on a sunny day
May Day traditionally marks the arrival of spring (Picture: Getty)

Maypoles are thought to have first appeared in Germany and the surrounding areas.

Where this particular tradition comes from is unclear, but one theory is that making maypoles began as pagan tradition of cutting down young trees and putting them in the ground to mark the coming of summer.

When is the next May bank holiday?

May 3 is the first bank holiday of May, but there is another one at the end of the month.

The second bank holiday this year falls on May 31, so there’s plenty of time to plan a barbecue yet.

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MORE: When is the Whitsun bank holiday in 2021?

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Author: Andrew Gaudion