Category: 18th Century History

May Day by Phyliss Miranda

 

 

 

When I thought about today being May 1st or May Day, I planned to write a quick blog on the history of May Day.  Now, how hard is that?  A tad of facts, the May Day Pole, and some lovely pictures.

Well, I’ll tell you all one thing, the history about the day halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice is breathtaking.  I found so much information on its history that it was difficult to pare it down.  So, here goes.

May Day originated as a pagan festive holy day celebrating the first spring planting.  The ancient Celts and Saxons celebrated May 1st as Beltane, which translates to the day of fire. Why the day of fire? Bel was the Celtic god of the sun.

Here are a few tidbits I found interesting:

  • May was once considered a bad luck month to get married. There’s on old saying, “Marry in May and you’ll rue the day”.
  • May in the Northern Hemisphere is similar to November in the Southern Hemisphere. So, “It is the third and last month of the season of spring”, centuries ago.
  • May’s birthstone is the emerald which symbolizes success and love.
  • In Old English, May is called the “month of three milkings” referring to a time when the cows could be milked three times a day.
  • The Indianapolis 500 car race and the Kentucky Derby are held in May.
  • The United Kingdom celebrates May as the National Smile Month.
  • The last week of May is Library and information week.
  • Dances, singing and cakes are typical of the celebration.

To my surprise, when you go back into history May 1st was the date chosen for the International Workers’ Day, not to be confused with Labor Day.

Some of the modern day celebrations include dancing around the Maypole, a lot of pageantry, including “floral wish”.

May Day is strongly associated with flowers, partly because of the availability.  Since the ancient days in England there was a custom of “bringing in the May”.  This was why people would go to the woods and pick flowers to bring into the houses to decorate.  They would also make garlands, a custom that has survived still today.  The garlands were also used by the children going door to door begging. That could be done only in May; otherwise, begging would be offensive.

On the first day of May, English villagers woke up at daybreak to roam the countryside gathering blossoming flower and branches to create the towering maypole set up on the village green.  This pole usually made of the trunk of a tall birch, was decorated with bright field flowers.  The villagers then danced and sang around the maypole, accompanied by a piper.

I couldn’t resist adding this custom.  Facewashing in May Dew:  Washing the face with May dew was believed to restore beauty.  This is why in the Ozark Mountains, a cradle of American folklore, girls used to nurture a belief that having their faces washed with the early dawn dew on May Day would help them marry the man of their choice.

Now, May Day and a MAYDAY are two separate things, as most of us know.  MAYDAY was officially recognized in 1948, and is the official call of urgent needs.  MAYDAY is called three times, so there’s no mistaking the signal of a life-threatening emergency.  It should be noted that a false MAYDAY call comes with a hefty fine and up to six years in prison, since it’s considered a criminal act in many countries.

Are you as surprised as I was researching the history behind May Day and MAYDAY?

I’m so thrilled that my second book in the Kasota Spring Romance series, Out of a Texas Night will be out on my next blog day.  It’s available for preorder at Amazon.

Tonight I’m selecting one reader who leaves a comment to receive a copy of their choice of any of my eBooks and I promise my May blog, at the end of the month, which is also my release date, will be filled with fun and prizes.

 

 

Updated: April 30, 2018 — 8:32 pm

Civilian Conservation Corp — Yesterday and Today

 

As a baby boomer, I thought the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC) first came into appearance in the United State as a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.  A national project that provided unskilled manual labor job related to conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state, and local governments.  Boy, I was ever wrong!

One of the CCC’s local projects is the two sets of cabins at Palo Duro Canyon, only a short distance south of Amarillo, Texas.  The canyon is known as the Grand Canyon of Texas. It’s absolutely beautiful. In this blog, I’m sharing many of my own pictures, especially of the three stone cabins deep into the canyon built by the CCC. I’ve spent more than one night at the old “cow camp cabins”, as they are known, with a number of writers and friends.  We’ve actually filled up all three of the cow camp cabins, just like the workers who lived there while building the roads and bridges in the 1930’s.

But here comes my surprise. The future CCC was originated on June 16, 1775, nearly two and a half centuries ago, by General George Washington, who appointed Col. Richard Gridley as the first chief engineer of the Continental army.  In 1779, The Corps of Engineers was established by congress as part of the Continental army.  The engineers’ fortifications played an important role in many Revolutionary War battles, including the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Battles of Saratoga.

In 1802, Congress, supported by President Thomas Jefferson, established the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.  This was after recognizing the need for a national engineering capability.  For more than a quarter century, West Point remained the only engineering school in the U.S.  Congress also established the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which dates its continuous origin from 1802, and was started at West Point.  Until 1866, the academy superintendent was a military engineer.

Our nation repeatedly called upon the Army Engineers to perform civil works as well as engineering projects.  During the 1800’s, the Corps supervised construction of extensive coastal fortifications and built lighthouses, piers, and jetties, as well as mapping navigation channels. A Corp of Topographical Engineers, a separate unit in 1838-63, helped explore, survey, and map many regions of the new frontier.

During the Mexican War and Civil War, in addition to supplying many important commanders such as Robert E. Lee and George McClellan, the Corps of Engineers played important roles in mapping, road and bridge construction, fortifications, and siege craft.  The 2,170 foot pontoon bridge built across the James River in June 1864 was the longest floating bridge erected before WWII. One of the army engineers, George W. Goethals, supervised the construction of the Panama Canal.

Now for the biggest surprise I found … The Corp of Engineers, thru their military role, shifted their attention away from the footprints of the United States to a military role, as seen in its construction of army and air force facilities in the buildup of the 1980’s Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, as well as peacekeeping operations in other parts of the world.

 

Please tell us two things.  First, did you realize the CCC, as we know it today, was founded so many years ago? And, secondly, where is your favorite place to go, relax, and enjoy the wonders of nature?  My answer … is spending time with friends in the cow camp cabins in Palo Duro Canyon.

To one lucky winner, I will give away an eCopy of your choice of my “Kasota Springs Romance” eBooks plus a $10.00 Bath and Bodyworks gift certificate.  The winner will be selected from those who leave a comment.

Updated: August 28, 2017 — 3:13 pm

The Gadsden Flag

 

As most of you know, I love research and when I come across something unusual I always try to add it to my blog file to share.  Today is one of those blogs where I knew nothing about the subject and was certainly excited to learn more and share.

The Gadsden Flag is a historical American flag with a bright yellow field depicting a rattlesnake, coiled and ready to strike.  Printed under the snake are the words “Dont Tread On Me” (and I didn’t make a mistake by leaving the apostrophe out). This flag was named after its designer, American statesman Christopher Gadsden.

Benjamin Franklin first used the rattlesnake in 1751 when he referenced it in a satirical commentary that he published in his Pennsylvania Gazette.  As the American Revolution approached, the snake became a symbol of the colonies and the American spirit.

The United States Navy was established in 1775, and before ships departed for their first mission, Gadsden presented the commander-in-chief of the Navy, Commodore Esek Hopkins, with the “Dont Tread On Me” flag to serve as his personal standard.

The Gadsden flag is considered to be one of the first flags of the United States, and has been reintroduced many times since the American Revolution as a symbol of American patriotism.

 

Many variations of the Gadsden flag exist:

  • The motto sometimes includes an apostrophe in the word “Dont” and sometimes does not.  Early written discussions uniformly included the apostrophe; however, as early as 1917, a flag reference book includes a picture of a version without the apostrophe.
  • The typeface used for the motto is sometimes a serif typeface and other times sans-serif.
  • The rattlesnake sometimes is shown as resting on a green ground, presumably grassy, and sometimes not.  The green grass seems to be a recent addition; representations dating from 1885 and 1917 do not display anything below the rattlesnake.
  • The rattlesnake usually faces to the left, and the early representations mentioned above face left.  However, some versions of the flag show the snake facing to the right.

If you wish to learn more about the various “Snake Flags” representing the United States, there’s a great explanation on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gadsden_flag.

I’m interested in knowing how many of you previously had heard of the Gadsden flag, or for that matter, any U.S. snake flag.

 


 

To one lucky commenter, I will give you a choice of one of

my eBook  Contemporary “Kasota Spring Romances”

The Troubled Texan or The Tycoon and the Texan,

.

 

Updated: July 30, 2017 — 2:26 pm
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