SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — As we ease into the month of May, many Utahns are looking back to yesteryear, when May Day celebrations were a joyous highlight of the spring season.
While the holiday isn’t as prevalent as it once was, there are endless memories of those times here in our state as young children made the most of the celebrations that happened every year on May 1.
First established to commemorate the trials and tribulations of workers during the labor movement in the late 1800s, May Day is recognized around the world as International Workers’ Day, complete with picnics, parties, and parades.
Here in Utah, the festivities were no different during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The holiday goes back as far as 1872, when Brigham Young and his party paused in northern Utah to watch a May Day celebration. Even well into the 1960s, children around the state celebrated the holiday with a long-held tradition — the maypole dance.
Looking back to her memories of dancing during the May Day ceremony at Madison Elementary School, Pam Gosdis remarks, “The ribbons were cloth ribbons coming out from the maypole. Whatever our corresponding ribbon was, we had to wear the same color outfit… It was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed it.”
Today, though officially present in 66 countries, the festivities of May Day are rarely recognized here in the United States. Still, many retain the nostalgia of their youth, when May Day celebrations were part of a tradition to be held dear.