“We have such a brief opportunity to pass on to our children our love for this Earth, and to tell our stories. These are the moments when the world is made whole. In my children’s memories, the adventures we’ve had together in nature will always exist.”
― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
This weekend is packed full of fun days to celebrate! Today, Friday, May 1 is May Day and tomorrow is Herb Day! This is a great time to get outside, enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, pick a few herbal friends and celebrate them.
May baskets are a fun tradition of May Day. Making paper baskets, decorated with colors and symbols of spring, filling them with springtime pretties such as Dandelions, Violets, Lily of the Valley, Lilacs, Irises, Tulips, Jonquils and other spring blooming beauties as well as a few sweet treats and hanging them on neighbor’s doors is an tradition that is sadly dying out. Louisa May Alcott wrote about it in “Jack and Jill”:
“The job now in hand was May baskets, for it was the custom of the children to hang them on the doors of their friends the night before May-day; and the girls had agreed to supply baskets if the boys would hunt for flowers, much the harder task of the two. Jill had more leisure as well as taste and skill than the other girls, so she amused herself with making a goodly store of pretty baskets of all shapes, sizes, and colors, quite confident that they would be filled, though not a flower had shown its head except a few hardy dandelions, and here and there a small cluster of saxifrage.”
Kids today still adore this tradition, surprising their neighbors with a kind gesture of spring. Not only does it brighten people’s day to get a wonderful surprise but kids get to learn to be kind and generous to others for the sheer enjoyment of it. Alternatively to delivering them around the neighborhood, they could be taken to a retirement home to brighten the day of some elders who might enjoy a bit of spring cheer and nostalgia. Who knows the stories that might be conjured up from those spring laden baskets!
It’s also a great way to teach others about herbs. Since Dandelions and Violets are blooming now, neighbors who might not think it so grand to get a basket of ‘weed’s left on their doorknob might enjoy a small note telling of the virtues of these sweet plants. Writing “Happy Herb Day” at the end of the note might share a lesser known holiday with them as well. Even though this is the 10th annual Herb Day, it’s still a holiday that is just catching on.
Other ways to celebrate Herb Day:
Invite some friends over for a Herb Day tea party
Play herbal games, make foods from herbs such as Dandelion Fritters, Rose Petal Jam, Wild Greens and Flower Salad and Sautéed Nettles. Served with a favorite herb tea, of course.
Host a Herb Day class
Invite friends over to learn about herbs. Use a copy of Herbal Roots zine as a teaching resource, there are plenty of fun activities and ideas in each issue!
Host a Herb Day plant walk
Take a walk through your back yard with your friends or neighbors, showing them a few ‘weeds’ that are actually medicinal herbs. It doesn’t have to be extravagant and who knows, maybe you’ll even convince one or two to stop spraying their Dandelions.
These are just a few ideas, there are so many ways to celebrate! Can you think of any more? Do you celebrate Herb Day? Do you make and pass out May baskets for your neighbors? We’d love to hear what you do to celebrate this time of the year!