Get cheap and easy May Day basket ideas and May Day basket tags! Learn how to make May Day baskets for neighbors, friends, and family! We’ll also cover May Day meaning, May Day basket history and why we do the May Day basket tradition as fun May Day crafts or flower craft for kids.
When is May Day?
May Day is an annual holiday. It is celebrate on May 1st (the first day of May) each year to celebrate the change in seasons. In 2020, May first is on a Friday.
Which countries celebrate May Day?
May Day is mostly celebrated in European countries like France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Others. It is celebrated in the United States, but you will not find the same amount of celebrations in America as in other countries. It is designated as an official holiday in some countries.
Chances are, you may not have heard about MayDay!
So, before we get to our May Day basket ideas let’s talk about the May Day origin.
May Day History
What is the reason for May Day?
May Day is mainly celebrated on May 1st each year to mark the changing season from winter to spring. May 1 on the calendar is around the halfway mark between the Spring equinox and summer solstice. Although the holiday has been around for a very long time, it grew to have a history in agriculture and celebrate the sowing of spring fields.
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac:
“Springtime celebrations filled with dance and song hailed the sown fields starting to sprout. Cattle were driven to pasture, special bonfires were lit, and both doors of houses and livestock were decorated with yellow May flowers. “
May Day history includes the rites of fertility for humans, livestock and even crops.
Puritans saw this as a Pagan ritual and forbade the participation in May Day celebrations so it never became a huge part of American culture.
The aspect of May Day being a Pagan ritual has mostly faded for the majority of communities celebrating. It has been replaced with festivities and celebrations of Spring in general, especially those May Day traditions in America.
You can read more about May Day history on History.com.
What are some May Day traditions?
- Gathering and decorating with flowers
- Weaving flower garland
- Attending May Day festivals and celebrations
- Crowning a May King and Queen
- Creating a May Pole, or a decorated May Day “tree” that people dance around
- Decorating doors with yellow May Day flowers
- Playing May Day games and activities
- Making a May Day basket of flowers and sneaking it to a friend or family member (see our directions!).
You can even make May Day baskets for work or church!
(Yes, you can make May Day baskets for adults!)
If you’re wondering where to buy may day baskets, don’t worry! We’ll cover how to easily make your own below!
The phrase “Bringing in the May” came from the May Day celebration of gathering wildflowers and green branches and decorating with them during the May 1st celebration.
I remember doing the May pole dance in school, do you?
Generally a pole is wrapped in different colored Maypole ribbons and a dance is performed. People hold the ends of the ribbons and weave in and out of each other.
(It can be confusing, but is fun!)
However, it wasn’t always like that…
The Farmer’s Almanac tells us this about Maypole history:
“Originally, the Maypole was a living tree brought in from the woods with much merrymaking.
Ancient Celts danced around the tree, praying for good crops and fertility.
For younger people, there was the possibility of courtship. If paired by sundown, the courtship continued so that the couple could get to know each other and married 6 weeks later on June’s Midsummer’s Day.
This is how the ‘June Wedding’ became a tradition.”
May Day Basket History
Before we get to how to make a may basket…
What Is A May Day Basket?
A May Day Basket is a small, handmade basket that is filled with flowers and other treats. It is then hung anonymously on the front door doorknob (or on the steps) of friend or family member.
What do May Day baskets mean?
A May Day basket is just a way to let someone know that you are thinking of them!
However, they had an interesting beginning.
According to NPR:
“A reporter in the Sterling, Ill., Gazette in 1871 explained the seasonal ritual this way:
‘A May-basket is — well, I hardly know how to describe it; but ’tis something to be hung on a door.
Made of paper generally, it contains almost anything, by way of small presents you have in mind to put in it, together with your respects, best wishes — love, perhaps. It is hung after dark at the door of anybody the hanger fancies. — Which done, the said hanger knocks and scampers.’
The writer went on to say, in the spirit of the times, that if a boy hangs a May basket on a girl’s door and the girl catches him, ‘it’s a great disgrace.’ If a girl is the hanger, ‘it disgraces the boy again not to catch her.'”
What do you put in May Day baskets?
Fill your May Day baskets with flowers (real or handmade) and also small candy or treats. Then, set it on hang it from the handle of their door or set it on their porch. May day baskets ideas are limited only by your imagination!
How do you make a May Day basket?
Your May basket designs can be as complex as you want — even weaving them with real flowers, twigs, and greenery! For us, we like to keep things simple and make May baskets by rolling a piece of craft paper into a cone and attaching a handle. You can even add a May Day basket tag with well wishes, a friendship quote, or even a May Day poem or quote.
(See our full May baskets ideas directions below!)
Let’s get to our kids’ craft!
These make great flower art projects for preschoolers and up!
(Yes, they’re even great May Day basket ideas for adults!)
We have gotten questions about how to make May baskets out of tissue paper. We use construction or craft or printer paper because it’s more durable/sturdy and holds your treats without ripping when you hand it on the door!
Here are our ideas for May baskets and how to start your own May Day tradition…
May Day Basket Ideas: How To Make Easy May Day Baskets
- Assorted sheets of craft paper (colors of choice)
- Green pipe cleaners
- Glue Dots (optional)
- Rolo candies, Hershey Kisses, or hard candies of choice
- Tissue paper (optional)
- Stickers (optional, for decorating)
- Markers or crayons
- Hole punch
FOR THE BASKET:
- Decorate, draw, or sticker on one side of a piece of craft paper. (Optional. You can also leave it plain.)
- Roll the piece of craft paper into a cone shape, with the decorated side out. Tape or staple the cone down the open sides so it stays in the cone shape. (This is your May Day Basket.)
- For the basket handle, cut a strip of a piece of the colored craft paper 2-inches wide along the top of the paper. Color, sticker or decorate the handle (optional). Staple the strip onto the basket (cone) to form a handle.
FOR THE FLOWERS:
- Cut flower shapes out of different colors of craft/construction paper. We did some in a daisy shape and some in a tulip shape, but you can cut your flowers any way you want!
- Choose a couple of the flowers (the round/daisy shaped ones work best) and use glue dots or tape to place a piece of the candy in the middle. (We used Rolos.)
- Turn the flower face over and tape a green pipe cleaner onto the back for the stem. When you're making the stem for the flowers with the candy in the middle, you may have to double up and twist the pipe cleaners before taping them onto the "flower" in order to make the stem stronger.
ASSEMBLE THE BASKET:
- Crumple a piece of tissue paper and stuff into the bottom of the basket (cone). This is an optional step, but we found that it helped make the paper flowers stand up better.
- Place a few pieces of candy/treats on top of the tissue paper.
- Carefully arrange the paper flowers in the cone basket.
- Write a note, punch a hole in it and loop it around the handle with one of the pipe cleaners (or a piece of twine).
- Sneak over to your neighbor or friend's house and leave your May Day baskets hanging on their doorknob!
REPEAT THE PROCESS UNTIL YOU'VE MADE AS MANY BASKETS AS YOU NEED. WE FOUND WE COULD MAKE ABOUT 4 BASKETS IN 30 MINUTES.
TAG US WITH YOUR MAY DAY BASKET IDEAS!