May Day is celebrated every year on the 1st May, as a way of celebrating the changing seasons - when the weather gets warmer and the trees and flowers are beginning to bloom.
England has been celebrating May Day for more than 2000 years, and May Day is still acknowledged with a bank holiday, which marks the end of a long winter, celebrating the joys of summer to come. In England, May Day traditions include Morris Dancing, Dancing around a Maypole and crowning a May Queen.
Schools often put a lot of effort into their annual May Day celebrations, so read on for some inspiration and ideas for how to make May Day special during lockdown.
Make A Maypole
During the May Day festivities, people would cut down a young tree to stick in the ground in their village - as a sign that summer is coming - and then people began to happily dance around this wooden pole. Maypoles are still popular at schools and in villages around the UK, with people plaiting and twisting ribbons to make a beautiful pattern on the pole as they dance around it.
Click here for more detailed instructions on how to make your own maypole.
Learn How To Morris Dance
Morris dancing is a traditional form of folk dancing, which has been performed by groups of men and women for hundreds of years. Morris dancers are accompanied by live music - with a band that includes an accordion, a melodeon or fiddle and a drum - and they wear beautiful, colourful outfits which change depending on where in the country the Morris dancers come from. The dancers wave white handkerchieves above their heads during their performance - or dancers are given a short wooden stick, which they bang against their partners stick during the dance. Lots of Morris dancers wear bell-pads on their shins, which make a cheerful sound as the dancers perform.
Why not have a Morris dance-themed craft day - making May Day outfits, including bell-pads and colourful sashes? Some Morris dancers paint their faces to match their outfits, so there are lots of ways to get inspired and have some fun. Try learning a traditional Morris dance - kids who enjoy dancing might enjoy following the video tutorial from the Historic Royal Palaces YouTube channel- but kids can also have some fun coming up with their own routine to perform on the day.
May Day Baskets
Traditionally, May Day Baskets were exchanged between friends and family as part of the celebrations. People would gather flowers, wrapping them in pretty paper baskets before leaving them hanging on the front door of their loved ones. These baskets would sometimes have other gifts alongside the flowers - including sweets and chocolates - and they are a great way to celebrate May Day, cheering up the front of the house with traditional flower crafts.
There are lots of ideas for making your own basket using traditional materials like coloured paper, or even up-cycled tin cans, so read on for inspiration for your May Day basket:
- Up-cycle a tin can, turning it into a May Day basket by glueing a ribbon handle into the inside. Get the kids to decorate a strip of paper to attach around the outside of the tin, and then search for flowers to fill the tin with.
- Paper plates make brilliant May Day baskets - they are quick and easy to make, and cost next to nothing. Simply fold a paper plate in half and staple the edges closed (leaving enough space for the flowers or gifts), or make a single cut to the centre of the plate, rolling the edges inwards to create a cone shape, secure with a staple and then get decorating.
- The simplest of all May Day Basket designs - take a piece of paper and roll it into a cone shape. Attach a ribbon handle at the top, and decorate with drawings, glitter or more ribbon.
- Leftover party hats can be quickly and easily turned into a May Day basket - simply turn it upside down, fill with flowers, and use the chin strap to hang it from the doorknob.
- If you are looking for fun crafts for kids to do during lockdown, then why not try weaving a basket from paper? This is a great craft activity that can be used for May Day baskets, and it is quick and simple to complete. Using strips of thick paper or folded newspaper, kids can construct a basket from scratch. You will need plenty of paper - preferably in a selection of colours - as well as a ruler, scissors and glue to make a basket. For design inspiration and instructions on how to construct your own May Day crafts, take a look at Ideas 2 Live 4.
Craft Your Own May Day Flowers
Having made a beautiful May Day basket, it is time to fill it with flowers and gifts. One of the traditional May Day activities was to collect spring flowers to go in your basket - however, this may be more difficult this year thanks to lockdown. If you are lucky enough to have a garden that is full of spring blossoms, then take the kids outside and lead a search for flowers to fill your baskets with. If you don't have a supply of spring flowers at your doorstep, then you can try to make your own flower crafts instead...
Tissue paper flowers are quick and easy to make, they look almost as good as the real thing - and they last much longer. One of the best May Day crafts for lockdown, all you need to make your own paper flowers is a selection of coloured tissue paper and some pipe cleaners (green, if possible). For detailed instructions on how to make a beautiful paper flower, follow the tutorial by Very Well Family.
If you have egg boxes waiting to be recycled, then you can turn them into beautiful flowers to celebrate May Day. Cut each 'cup' out of the box, and then shape and paint it to look like a flower. One of the most fun May Day crafts for kids, simply glue the finished 'flower' to a green pipe cleaner or ice lolly stick, and arrange in the May Day basket.
You can quickly and easily turn lollipops into flowers by simply cutting a flower shape from coloured card and inserting the lollipop through the middle.
If you have young children, why not spend some time making colourful handprints using colourful paint? You can turn these prints into flowers by cutting them out once they are dry and attaching them to a 'stem' - either a pipe cleaner, ice lolly stick or straw. This is an adorable craft activity to do with all the family, and it is a great way to celebrate May Day with the kids.
If your family enjoys baking, then celebrate May Day by making your favourite sweet treats. Make smaller treats that can be individually wrapped, as this means they will easily fit into so your May Day basket. Brownies, cupcakes, cookies and muffins are all great ideas for baked goods that kids will love to make.
Godmother to two little girls, Rosanna enjoys finding ways to entertain her goddaughters with games, cooking and – best of all - arts and crafts. Having studied Fine Art, Rosanna uses her creativity to make colourful, fun and educational art and craft projects that are perfect for kids of all ages. Full of ideas for homemade cards and handcrafted gifts, toys and decorations – Rosanna also has a knack for finding child-friendly cultural activities and fun places for kids to blow off steam.