happy may day!

[written 05/01/05]

at my college, may day is a big day—the day marking the end of the quarter, with exams beginning the day after may day, and also celebrating the end of the academic year. although i wasn’t a big participent in the traditional may day events at bryn mawr, i loved that it was such a huge deal—and yes, it was, unlike any other school i knew of.

weeks before the day, we’d all receive in our mailboxes a rolled-up poster-size print out of the schedule events, all written fancy-like on off-white thick paper. girls would run around all april trying to find the perfect may day dress – which, by tradition, had to be white. (although i looked, i never found my perfect may day dress till after i graduated – such a shame, cause it’s beautiful, but really there’s no place to wear it now without looking like i’m going to my own country wedding.)

on the day itself, there’d always be some small-name-performer on the verge of making it big who’d sing out on the lawn in front of the campus center—but it was always contentious who was chosen (ah, the drama!), and for me, not so thrilling since the music tended to be too indigo girls for my taste (though i did like a few indigo girls songs, i just had an overdose of it at bryn mawr, along with U2 surprisingly—there was this one girl across the hall junior year who would blast nothing but U2, particularly U2’s “one”. ay. ) there’d be (bad, typically burnt) food, faculty and student and almuni mingling all day, free champagne with strawberries and cream for the seniors in the cloisters. there was a traditional may pole dancing (that photo on the right dates from 1900), along with its modern-day equivalent of may hole dancing (yes, you read that right). there was also a hoop contest for the seniors, with whoever crossing the finishing line first supposedly would also be the first to get their PhD (ah, a women’s college! a little too self-conscious, huh?)

the main loveliness for me, though, was that everyone would sit out on the main lawn with blankets and food and pretty clothing and just lay in the sun, soaking up rays, and feeling all relaxed for once, all relaxed finally after all the stress of classes and the one-upping of fellow students (a perennial problem at my school, full of over-achievers who just had to be the most stressed out, over-burdened student on campus. i tried not to give in to the madness but sometimes i found myself saying ‘oh i wish i had only three papers to write by friday!’)

also, those months of april and may were the most gorgeous at bryn mawr. already a beautiful campus, with old castle-y looking buildings complete with turrets and all (which they’d fly pennants from on may day!), springtime in pennsylvania is incredible. there was this row of cherry trees lining the walkway to the campus center, down the main drag of the campus, and they’d bloom the most beautiful pink blossomos in such an abundance it was freaky. and then the blossoms would start to fall and sometimes when the wind was blowing just right and you’d be rushing to class, all of a sudden, walking past those trees, you’d feel like you were in a pink rainstorm and it would just always catch my breath.

although may 1st also very much so means international workers day and worker solidarity, as well as the traditional day of beltane, a pagan holiday i always found thrilling and free, though i’ve never really celebrated it, may day to me will always also mean white dresses, sunshine, and pink blossoms.

(i recently, just days ago, got in touch with an old great friend from my bryn mawr days, so undoubtably some of my enthusiastic waxing here has to do with her and my happiness at being in contact again. yay katie!)