Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day

When I was growing up, May Day was just another day.  No celebration, no May poles, nothing. I cannot even remember it being mentioned in school. I do remember seeing pictures of May poles in books, but I had no idea what they were for and I certainly never saw one in person.

A simple Google search will reveal that celebrations associated with May Day date back hundreds of years. What originally began as a pagan festival (like so many of our popular holidays), May Day has evolved into a more secular holiday which is still celebrated in parts of Europe and the United States.

When my Grandma Burnette was growing up in Floyd County, Virginia, a popular May Day activity for the young folks was climbing the Buffalo and having a picnic. She used to always tell me that quite a bit of courting happened on those outings! Buffalo Mountain looms over the surrounding countryside at an elevation of 3,971 feet. With a breathtaking view that includes being able to see Pilot Mountain in North Carolina, it is easy to see why it was such a popular hike then and now. There are many legends associated with the Buffalo. I think that my favorite is that a black snake the size of a telephone pole lives in the caves that pockmark the steep side of the mountain. (For more information about visiting the Buffalo click HERE.)
Buffalo Mountain in the distance
Photo taken from Rocky Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway

May Day on the Buffalo 
circa 1920
Back Row: Nellie Goad, Wirt Harris, Lena Cox, Lola Goad  
Front Row:  unknown

Left to Right:  John Edward Burnette, Tressie Goad, unknown, unknown
I suspect that this photo may have been taken on May Day.

How do you celebrate May Day?

Copyright 2012--All Rights Reserved--The Wheel & Distaff by Kimberly Burnette-Dean. 


  1. On a clear day, I can see Buffalo Mountain from my pasture.

    1. I always feel like I am "home" when I can see the Buffalo!

  2. We usually attend a May Pole celebration-but not this year. I love the idea of having a picnic-and I LOVE your photos!

    1. I have always wondered why no one ever mentioned May Day when I was growing up in the 1960s & 1970s. Especially when it seemed to be such a fun thing when my grandmother was growing up!

  3. I am very lucky to have quite a few old family photos. I love to be able to share them!


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