Wednesday, May 3, 2017

May Day Celebrates Coming of Summer, 1942

“In the Merry, Merry Month of May,” from The Future Outlook, Greensboro newspaper, May 16, 1942

May—the month of the year when Nature makes its debut of the summer season—the month when the whole world seems glad that it is in existence. May, the month of marbles, jumping ropes, jack-stones, roller skates—and MAY DAY!

May Day has long been a tradition in this country. It was brought over from England. Early American literature recounts vivid May Day ceremonies. May Day is a part of each American’s childhood. But we are at war now. Doesn’t it seem just the least bit stupid for our children to be tripping about over lawns in brief bits of color winding May-poles? Of course it doesn’t seem stupid! May Day is a custom that has a benefit to be derived from it in the long run even if it does seem frivolous at first glance. It would be a pity if all the traditions and customs of our young America were to be dispensed with because we are in the first year of a war. Now mind you, this war is a serious thing! It isn’t to be laughed off. But if we can fight the war and keep our morale up on the side by means of our American, purely American enjoyments, then why shouldn’t we do just that?

Morale building is a pretty important problem to face in these first days of international conflict. What would be the psychological effect if there were no May Days? Quite negative, no doubt. What would there be to relieve the grim, tenseness of news about the war—of the defense program, and all the other familiar connected subjects? We need May Days—they symbolize hope for a return to our former way of living before the war.

Of course the May Days we haven’t shouldn’t under any circumstances be the elaborate affairs they have been in previous years. Economy must be practiced; discretion must be exercised. Costumes need not be made out of the best of materials. The effect is achieved if the costumes are made of brightly colored crepe paper. The effect is the primary consideration—May Days were meant to be happy days.

Many May Days are using the war as a sort of sub-theme. For instance, Bennett College has as its May Day theme “the development of the dance in America.” There are Indian dances, waltzes, minuets, and all the conventional American dances. The climax of the exercises will be the presentation of the Modern Dances, the latest group to make a contribution to America’s dances. The Modern Dance group will depict symbolically the rise of Germany, the subjugation of the minor countries of Europe, the conflict between Russian and Germany, the entry of America and Japan into the world fray, and finally the hope for tomorrow. This sort of May Day serves a definite purpose.

Dress your children for May Day exercises. Don’t take away from their childhood joys. Their joys are limited as it is. Attend May Day exercises yourself. May Day is America. Don’t let the May Day custom die—for with it dies a part of America!

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