Wednesday, May 1, 2013
The first of May is May Day.
May 1st is observed around the world in different countries and cultures by an assortment of customs.
I learned one of the most touching expressions when I visited France in 2009. Here it is. It was in France on May 1st, 1561, that French King Charles IX of France received a lily of the valley as a lucky charm. He decided to offer a lily of the valley each year to the ladies of his court.
At the beginning of the 20th century, it became customary on the 1st of May, to give a sprig of lily of the valley as a symbol of springtime. The French government permits individuals and workers' organizations to sell them free of taxation. It is also traditional for the lady receiving the spray of lily of valley to give a kiss in return. I was present on the occasion of this photo, and I saw them kiss that night.
In western countries May Day is synonymous with International Workers' Day, which celebrates the social and economic achievements of the labour movement. As a day of celebration the holiday has ancient origins, and it can relate to many customs that have survived into modern times. Many of these customs are due to May Day being a cross-quarter day, meaning that (in the Northern Hemisphere where it is almost exclusively celebrated) it falls approximately halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice. See Wikipedia entry for May Day.
However, for me personally, May 1st is poignantly remembered as the anniversary of my father's death at the age of 93. This year 2013 it a fifth anniversary of what our family views as His home-going. Most importantly that sentiment bears upon his faith in God having prepared a home for him. Yet there is also the awareness that when he died, it was just six months after his sweetheart's passing. Tina Martha passed away in November and with his family standing with him he kissed her face as she lay in her casket and said, "Goodnight sweetheart, I'll see you soon." He lived six months, perhaps lonesome at times, and yet enjoying the life that he had. On the evening that he slipped away, he had supper with my brother and sister in law, Murray and Diane, and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Murray drove him home. There was evidence that he had washed a few dishes in his apartment. Toward bedtime, a staff person in the assisted living unit, came by with meds, and when he didn't answer the doorbell she unlocked the door and upon entering found that he was lying on the living room rug. He was gone. Without any bruising on his body, it was assumed that he had not fallen but feeling unwell and unable to make it to the couch, he lay down on the floor. And Edward Richard Unruh went home. I loved them both very much.