April (snow) showers bring May flowers
Forget the crisis gear – grab some posies. April (snow) showers bring May flowers, a fitting scenario for May Day. Long before the phrase became associated with pleas for help in the most dire of circumstances, May Day was simply a way to make the first of May a holiday. And as far back as Tudor England, the King usually paid.
Traditionally celebrated festival-style, May Day revelries usually included the crowning of the May queen (with flowers), dancing around the Maypole (with flowers) and singing little ditties (about flowers). According to legend, washing the face in the May Day morning dew beautifies the skin. May Day was also seized upon by the lower classes as a day to make merry at the expense of the rich. To this end, beggars bearing a garland of pretties would be allowed to knock on doors and ask for alms.
People would also waltz into the forest and hack down a healthy tree to use as the Maypole. Some historians speculate this underscores the medieval rights of people to use timber from forests, either to heat their homes or build them. Whether or not this is so, May Day has until very recently been a clandestine holiday from a day’s labors, taken with or without an employer’s blessing.
More recently, May Day has become a holiday marked with political demonstrations and labor parades, stemming from a meeting in Paris in 1889 of world Socialist parties. The agenda of the attendees was simple: support for the United States’ labor movement’s insistence for an eight-hour workday. They chose May 1 as the day for their parades. Afterward, May 1 was frequently referred to as Labor Day.
Flowers of the season
“Tulips, hyacinths, daffodils – bulb flowers are in season right now,” said Sarah Young. Young co-owns Cedar’s Flower Shop in Edwards with her sister — Cyndy May, as coincidence would have it. Cedar’s has been open for seven years now, and neither sibling has any intention of returning to their native Pennsylvania.
“We haven’t noticed too much activity around May Day here,” said Young. “That’s mostly in Europe. But hey, everybody likes flowers. It’s easy to please people with flowers.”
The art of speaking with flowers has degenerated to an “I’m thinking about you,” “Congratulations” or “I’m sorry I messed up.” But each flower has an individual meaning, which were drawn upon by courtiers of the 17th century who didn’t have anything better to do than dress for dinner, write love poems and send each other intricate bouquets that spoke volumes.
So for those who opt to keep their declarations in season, here are the options according to European-based Clare Florists:
n Tulips Ð perfect lover, fame, passion
n Tulips, red Ð believe me
n Tulips, yellow Ð there is sunshine in your smile
n Hyacinths Ð games, sports, rashness
n Hyacinths, blue Ð constancy
n Hyacinths, purple Ð forgive me
n Hyacinths, white Ð I’ll pray for you
n Hyacinths, yellow Ð jealousy
n Daffodils Ð you’re the only one, unrequited love, the sun shines when I’m with you
What flower does Young prefer?
“Hydrangeas,” she said, without a moment’s hesitation. The large purple and pink blooms cover many a bush on both coasts, and are often thought of as old-fashioned flowers. They have a myriad of meanings – thank you, frigidity and heartlessness. Young simply laughed at that. As for the “underdog” flower, Young predicts carnations are due for a comeback.
“They can make them in so many different colors now, the variety is really cool,” said Young. “People started to hate them for awhile, but they’re getting better and better. Right now we’ve got some cool purple ones.”
It’s a good season for purple carnations, as they connote capriciousness. Pink carnations declare a woman’s love, while red speak of admiration and pining away for another.
Yellow carnations put it in plain speak: you have disappointed me – which is what employers might be sending around for those who suddenly call in sick for the long weekend. But on the bright side, tradition is 100 percent behind the truant.