May Day

MaypoleIt’s amazing what the first day of May means to different people. I wished my wife happy May Day this morning.

What’s so happy about it? The Feast of Work? Or if you’re extreme right, Joan of Arc?

Joan of Arc! I thought we Brits had burned her at the stake, thus causing the enmity between the Frogs and the Rosbifs!

The liturgical calendar gives the Feast of the Apostles Philip and James – Sarum and Roman before the time of John XXIII who wished to “baptise” the Feast of Work by instituting a feast of St Joseph the Worker. Some on the Internet get quite excited about this – I just continue with the traditional Apostle’s Feast.

We English have May Day which means an old pagan spring holiday. It was a day of dancing and seeing in the spring and its joys. For Catholics, it marks the beginning of the Month of Our Lady. We have maypoles and Morris dancing, and all sorts of things. May Day is longer a public holiday in England and is replaced by Bank Holiday Monday, the first Monday of May to allow an extended weekend without a “bridge”.

Mayday is also an emergency signal given by ships and aircraft in distress. We should give a thought and a prayer for those in danger on the sea. The word is said three times and information about the emergency is radioed out (position and heading, last known position if the vessel is lost, number of persons in danger, etc.). Why this word? It is distinctive when there is noise and interference. Also, it is derived from the French term m’aider, venez m’aider, meaning come and help me. An alternative signal is the well-known Morse Code signal SOS, but it was superseded by Mayday in 1927 with the use of radio. This signal is taken very seriously by the lifeboat and rescue services, and false alarms are punished very severely.

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6 Responses to May Day

  1. Tom Lemmens says:

    Joseph the Worker never really worked in Belgium. Rerum Novarum (Ascension Day) was the catholic workers’ feast here.

  2. Francis says:

    Happy May Day to you, Father!

    Here in St Andrews, we congregated at the beach after a gaudy night and dipped in the Northern Sea just before sunrise. It was amazing!!! Btw, John Milbank was here a couple of weeks ago, together with Roger Scruton, for a conference on Natural Rights. I was surprised by Milbank’s “kehre” to a more Thomistic direction. But as Dr Tighe mentioned in a comment to another article, he is still much in favour of WO. All in all, great blog – keep up!

  3. Patricius says:

    1st May 2010 was one of several flash points in my dispute with Tim Finigan, of execrable memory, at Blackfen. I turned up expecting Miranda but was greeted by Caliban…

  4. FYI: Pius XII, not John XXIII, instituted the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

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