Holiday History: May Day and some simple May Day Basket Inspiration

May Day is a holiday you don’t hear much about these days. I had heard of a May Day Baskets before, and I was curious about the history and significance of the baskets…so I did a little digging. I’m not going to lie, the history of this holiday feels a little confusing. Historians believe that the first “May Day Celebration” was a Celtic Festival, called Beltane, celebrating the beginning of Summer. There is also a connection to an ancient Roman celebration called, Floralia, or Festival of Flowers, honoring Flora the goddess of flowers and celebrating the arrival of Spring. These celebrations included bonfires, dancing, singing and eating. As Christianity spread throughout Europe many of the customs and traditions changed to hold more of a religious focus, and the traditions have further evolved into more of the secular activities seen today including May Poles, parades, crowning a May Queen and May Day Baskets. For several centuries the celebration of May Day remained popular in Europe and the United States as a way to welcome warmer weather and celebrate Spring.

Dancing around a May Pole ( a large pole with ribbons attached at the top) was common throughout many parts of Europe, but never really gained popularity in the US. May Day Baskets on the other hand where popular in the US in the 19th and 20th centuries. May Day baskets were crafted and anonymously hung on doors of friends and neighbors as a sign of affection, or even as a romantic gesture. Baskets often included flowers gathered after April showers and various other treats.

We didn’t do anything for May Day growing up, but I feel like I might have made a construction paper basket or two in elementary school, maybe? I love the idea of May Day, a day dedicated to surprising friends and neighbors with fun goody baskets is definitely right up my alley, so I’m very much team #bringbackthebaskets! I feel like we could all use a little joy from an unexpected treat these days! And, you know what’s really awesome? When a gift is unexpected then what you give doesn’t matter as much…because there aren’t any expectations! It’s truly the thought that counts!

Making a May Day basket doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, shoot you don’t actually even have to use a basket. It’s a fun opportunity to get creative! Any combination of small treats and flowers will work. Here are a few items you could include:

  • Fresh flowers
  • Potted flowers
  • Flower seeds
  • Candy/snacks
  • Sparkling water (or an adult bevie)
  • bubbles
  • Stickers
  • Fun pens/notepad
  • Baked goods

Of course, what you give can be personalized to the recipient. For a neighbor you don’t know well you might stick to a potted plant or bouquet of fresh flowers. For a bestie you might include their favorite drink or candy. I tend to shy away from home made goodies unless I know someone really well.

You can also get creative with how you package your items:

  • Make a paper cone for flowers and goodies. Here’s a great post.
  • Use an empty tin can. Clean it out and hot glue a ribbon inside for hanging.
  • Use a paper lunch bag.
  • Use a travel cup or color changing tumbler as a vase for fresh flowers…it can double as a gift! I saw these at Walmart and they would be perfect!
  • Bundle items with a ribbon.

This little bundle is fun for a kid. The tag says, “we hope your day is bursting with unexpected joys” so I used starburst and bubbles!

Here are the May Day tags that you can use to spread some May Day cheer of your own!

Let’s bring back the May Day Basket, shall we? And don’t worry if you can’t get it pulled together by May 1st, I’m sure anyone would welcome a basket all month long!

Happy May Day!



Hey, I’m Megan, wife to Chad, mama to our three rambunctious boys, Grady, Marshall, Stafford and our sweet little girl, Ainsley Nell.  I have a passion for celebrating holidays, cherishing seasons, creating memories, collecting traditions, connecting hearts and chasing joy.   Thanks for coming along for our journey.