Decorating & DIY

May Day Baskets: Reviving A Quaint Tradition

may day baskets

May Day baskets are a quaint little tradition that seems to have gone the way of poundings and dance cards. Nobody does them anymore. But I think we need to bring them back.

May Day (May 1st) used to be a celebration of the warmer weather of Spring. Farmers would have their crops planted by then and able to take a day off. Communities gathered and celebrated with potluck meals and maypole dancing.

Another associated activity was the giving of May Day baskets (or May baskets). These were small baskets filled with flowers, traditionally lily-of-the-valley, and perhaps candies. They were placed anonymously on the front door of someone you wanted to bless or flirt with.They were placed anonymously on the front door of someone you wanted to bless or flirt with. Click To Tweet

When I was a child, we learned to observe May Day in school. We learned a maypole dance in P.E. and made May Day baskets in art class. I remember walking home from the school bus stop and delivering my basket filled with paper flowers to my neighbors.

My neighbors were an elderly, childless couple named Earl and Edith. They must have seen me leave the basket on their door because the next day, they gave my mother some candy to give to me. My mom said they expressed their delight at receiving the May Day basket.

Mother’s and Father’s Day comes quickly on the heels of May Day. As a childless couple, these weren’t days Earl and Edith were honored by children. And they grieved it. So that little basket of paper flowers, made by a neighbor child, was appreciated much more than I could have guessed. As an adult, I understand much better. With a certain perspective, small things are big blessings.

I wonder why, as a society, we’ve let the opportunity to delight friends and neighbors in one united day of blessing slip away. Yes, we do “random acts of kindness” and we may pay for someone’s coffee in a drive-thru line. These are wonderful things. I’d just like to see traditional May Day baskets take their quaint, old-timey place alongside them.

Maybe you would, too. Wouldn’t it be fun to leave an anonymous little gift tied to someone’s door? You could make someone’s day! I’m bringing it back for a few of my neighbors.

How To Make May Day Baskets

The first thing I did is assemble some craft materials, flowers, and candy.
may day basket

Here I have scrapbooking papers, leftover Easter grass, paper dessert doilies, ribbons, tag cardstock, flower templates. Since I want to put something IN the basket, I also got small boxes of chocolates and real flowers.

I also needed a stapler and glue. I folded a 12″x12″ sheet of scrapbook paper in half, on a diagonal, into a triangle. Then I rolled it into a cone shape and secured it with a staple at the top and glue on the seam.

may day baskets

Next, I made a decorative collar for the cone (really wanted the old-timey look) with a paper doily. I did that by cutting a circle doily in half, rolling 1 half into a cone, stapling it at the seam, and cutting the bottom of the cone off. Then I just slid the collar into the paper cone and glued it where I wanted it.

may day basket

To finish, I made two holes in the back of the cone and threaded thin, green tulle through so that the tulle circled the front of the cone and came out on the inside of it. Then I double-tied it into a bow – leaving enough slack to fit over a door handle. Then I made a card that says “MAY your DAY be happy” and tied this with pink and purple ribbon to the green tulle on the front of the cone. Finally, I filled the bottom of the cone with paper grass.

may day basket

I made three of them.

may day basket

All that’s left to do is add flowers and candy and leave them on my neighbor’s doors on May 1st. I don’t know my neighbors very well, but I hope these will bring them a little bit of the delight that Earl and Edith felt.

may day basket   may day basket