By Roger Chambers
May Holidays and Observances
May 1 May Day / Celtic Beltaine; Law Day; International Labor Day
May 2 Rhode Island Independence Day
May 5 Cinco de Mayo
May 8 Truman Day in Missouri
May 10 Confederate Memorial Day in North and South Carolina
May 14 Mother’s Day
May 15 Law Enforcement Day
May 20 Armed Forces Day – Mecklenburg Day in North Carolina
May 22 National Maritime Day; Victoria Day in Canada
May 29 Memorial Day (observed)
May is generally one of the most pleasant months of the year. Perhaps once a decade a late spring storm with a an inch or two of snow occurs, but that is rare. The day light hours are increasing toward solstice season of June, and days are generally warm. Frost is rare and the last frost of the season is usually by mid-May, perhaps 2 weeks earlier than it was a couple of decades ago.
Many flowers and vegetables are best planted in May, but the most frost sensitive tomatoes and peppers should be planted late in the month or early June. Traditionally, Memorial Day weekend has been a planting weekend for most home gardeners, but many now start one or two weeks earlier.
May’s Full Flower Moon rises during the season of late tulips, iris, and lavender in the garden, and a wide variety of elusive woodland flowers like trillium. Insect pests are usually not too bad early in the month, but black fly season in the North Country usually starts in mid to late May. Insect repellent is a good idea for hiking, fishing, or camping excursions, and even in urban or suburban yards in the evening.
May Day begins the month with a cultural holiday (but not official with time off) that marks the season and labor history. International Labor Day, often just called May Day, is celebrated in many, if not most, countries around the world. The origins of this are the Hay Market Riots in Chicago in the 1880’s that came about as workers struggled for the right to an eight hour work day. The observances surrounding this history spread to Europe and gradually became a major day celebrating labor and the common worker. Ironically, this is not formally observed in the
U.S., with Labor Day observed in the United States on the first Monday in September.
May Day is also known as Beltaine, observed by the Celtic calendar as a cross quarter day, midway between the vernal equinox and summer solstice. Traditionalists mark this as the beginning of summer. With spring flowers abundant, tall May Poles of birch trees were decorated with garlands and folk dancing including dancing around the May Pole. While some see these celebrations as pagan, they have an ancient history with many local variations, especially in Northern Europe. Observing these old traditions appears to be increasing somewhat in recent years.
The bicycle ride for missing exploited children has been held for several years in mid May. This began after the highly publicized case of Sarah Anne Wood, an area teenage girl that went missing in 1993. Several dozen bike riders participate in this 100 mile ride through central New York to raise money for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children-New York/Mohawk Valley (NCMEC-NY/MV). There are meetings in May, including a mandatory meeting for new riders and other volunteers on May 17. This year’s ride will be on June 2. It is unclear, but perhaps this ride is shifting to June, much as the Greatest Heart Run/Walk has shifted from February to March.
Major holidays are Mother’s Day on the second Sunday, and Memorial Day on the last Monday. Memorial Day is the clear cultural marker of the beginning of summer, though summer officially begins with the solstice of June 21. While it still might be cool for swimming in chilly Adirondack lakes, state parks, resorts, and tourist attractions generally begin the summer season. Many parades are held in the area for this major holiday of early summer.
In the Night Skies
Rise and Set Times for Celestial Bodies on May 1
Sun Sunrise 5:52 a.m. Sunset 8:03 a.m.
Moon Rise 10:43 a.m. Set 12:47 a.m.
Mercury Rise 5:21 a.m.
Venus Rise 4:17 a.m.
Mars Set 10:15 p.m.
Jupiter Set 5:08 a.m.
Saturn Rise 11:34 p.m.
Phases of Moon
First Quarter May 2
Full Flower Moon May 10
Last Quarter May 18
New Moon May 25
April 21 – May 20 Taurus
May 21 – April 20 Gemini
Early in the month, May 1-2, Mars is to. The right of Aldebaran, a star inTaurus. It is lower on the horizon as the month progresses and is difficult to seen by the end of May. Jupiter appears close to the waxing gibbous Moon on the 7th. Saturn appears to the right of the moon on the 16th.
Mercury makes an appearance as a morning star from the 18th, though very low on horizon and difficult to see. Venus is an easily seen morning star, in conjunction with the crescent Moon on the 22nd.During the New Moon, the moon reaches its closest point to the earth for the year. On the 25-27, the tides will be higher than usual as a consequence.