Looking back:The many ways May Day has been celebrated

Published 6:20 am Saturday, April 28, 2018


Contributing Writer

The May Day Celebration began as an ancient spring festival and is usually observed May 1 with programs in schools.

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Most celebrations are held in the United States and Europe, offering singing and dancing by children going around the May Pole. Cake is always a part of festivities.

Locally, May Day programs were held at the Kentucky College for Women and in local schools.

The college held the event on the campus when a new May Day queen was to be crowned.

Solo and group dancing were included in the program.

May 1, 1920, A large crowd attended as the senior class, dressed in colonial costumes, approached the queen’s throne, followed by dancers.

Silence fell over the crowd as May Day Queen Katherine Rawson came down the steps of Morgan Hall and to the throne on the campus.

She was selected by the Senior class due to her academic standing; popularity with the student body; and interest in school activities. Her personal charm proved her to be a most lovely and gracious queen.

As she was crowned, voices sang “Hark! Hark! and the Hark,” at the close of which the queen raised her scepter for the revel to begin.

Her party was composed of Virginia Bandy, cardinal; Hughes Jackson, crown bearer; Anna May Baldwin and Mary Louise Durham, flower girls; Virgaline Byron and Brummel Lewis, attendants; and Edith Whitehouse and Lucy Puryear, train bearers.

Dancers Ellen Clayton, Flo Armentrout, Margaret Cook, Elizabeth Fox, Evelyn Bates, Helen Todd and Kathryn Crane gave a special show. Lucy Johnson and Marjorie Lawwill were hobby horses and Evaline Staughn was Puck; they were most amusing and received much applause.

The May Pole dance by the senior class concluded the program, which was open to the public.

The Kate Morrison Breckenridge Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy held a meeting the same day as the celebration of May Day.

However, members were told to be prompt for the meeting so they could attend the May Day exercises at Kentucky College for Women.

Chilly May Day

The weather was a bit chilly for the May 1940 May Day events at Centre College.

Mimi Ruth, a senior from Harlan, was crowned May Day queen. She succeed Dorothy Swain, queen of the 1939 event.

Singing and dancing by the women students carried out a Mother Goose theme in pageant form. Jeanne Bailey, athletic director, for women students at Centre had charge of the day’s celebration.

Most local schools also celebrated spring with a May Day event.

In 1940, Junction City High School celebrated the event with an outdoor pageant put on by the first through sixth grades.

Teachers Jessie Kelley, Bessie Hogue and Anah Prewitt were in charge.

The program was delayed twice due to rainstorms, but a third storm only drove the program inside the school.