Holidays and events

Early May has nine occasions of significance in my household; seven of them have a wider significance. In any case, it’s a busy time.

I posted about most of these in 2012, here. Now to expand on those notes.

Each occasion is fixed either to a date of the month (for instance, the 9th), whatever day of the week that turns out to be; or to a day of the week (for instance, Sunday), whatever date of the month that happens to be (in which case, some formula — like “first Monday after the first Sunday” — picks out a specific date from the alternatives). In what follows, I’ll note these restrictions in all-caps — NINTH, SUNDAY — without going into further details.

Each entry in the list begins with the day and date for 2014.

1. Thursday FIRST: [traditional] May Day. From Wikipedia:

May Day on May 1 is an ancient Northern Hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures. May Day coincides with International Workers’ Day… Dances, singing, and cake are usually part of the celebrations that the [traditional] day includes. [and then there is the maypole]

2. Thursday FIRST: International Workers’ Day. From Wikipedia:

International Workers’ Day, also known as Labor Day or May Day, is a celebration of laborers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labor movement and occurs every year on May 1.

… In many countries, the working classes sought to make May Day an official holiday, and their efforts largely succeeded. May Day has long been a focal point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist and anarchist groups.

… May Day has been an important official holiday in countries such as the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, Cuba and the former Soviet Union. May Day celebrations typically feature elaborate popular and military parades in these countries.

3. SATURDAY Third: (morning): (Palo Alto) Spring Fete. A celebration for (and largely by) children, partially replacing earlier Cinco de Mayo events. Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky posted (on Facebook) a good bit about yesterday’s event, ending with:

One last note about the parade [which was full of quirkiness]: I also passed a woman on a cell phone saying “No, I mean, it’s a REAL PARADE. With bands and clowns and everything. In the middle of the street.” She was not displeased, but definitely bemused.

4. SATURDAY Third: Derby Day. The Kentucky Derby, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, has always been an event in my Kentucky-connected family; my first father-in-law, Keene Daingerfield, was for years a trainer of thoroughbreds, then a steward (that is, judge) at tracks in New Jersey and Florida, and eventually the senior state steward for thoroughbred racing in Kentucky, working at Churchill Downs and Keeneland (in Lexington).

In yesterday’s running, the favorite, California Chrome, won tidily — by 1 ¾ lengths.

5. Sunday FOURTH: Kent State Day.  (“Four dead in O-hi-o”), regularly remembered in my family (and of course by others); we were in Ohio at the time, and in the midst of Vietnam protests and campus upheavals.

6. Sunday FOURTH: Star Wars Day. (“May the Fourth be with you” — ouch). A day for the geeks.

7. Monday FIFTH: actual Cinco de Mayo. From Wikipedia:

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May”) is a celebration held on May 5. It is celebrated in the United States and in Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla, …where the holiday is called El Día de la Batalla de Puebla (English: The Day of the Battle of Puebla).

It originated with Mexican-American communities in the American West as a way to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War, and today the date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride. In the state of Puebla, the date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day — the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico — which is celebrated on September 16.

Throughout the Bay Area, mostly in San Jose and San Francisco, there are various celebrations of Mexican culture, cuisine, dance, and music.

8. Friday NINTH: Ann Daingerfield’s birthday, in 1937. (Ann died in 1985.) Everyone remembers that her birth was connected to the Derby victory of the celebrated thoroughbred War Admiral, who took the Triple Crown that year. (He won 21 of his 26 starts overall.)

Some in the family maintained that Ann was born on that day — but in fact the Derby was on the 8th in 1937. Close, and certainly tied to War Admiral’s win (I suspect Libby Daingerfield was already in labor during the race).

9. SUNDAY Eleventh. (U.S.) Mother’s Day. This holiday often interfered with the celebration of Ann’s birthday — birthday presents and Mother’s Day presents tending to overlap quite a bit, and though my household didn’t do anything at all for Mother’s Day, tons of others do, a fact that Ann resented quite a bit.

In my posting last year on Mother’s Day, I reflected on the Sacred Harp hymn The Bride’s Farewell (#359b):

As I said in an earlier posting (on Murillo’s Lesson, #358, which goes on to a second page that has The Bride’s Farewell at the bottom of it), this song is “a commentary on family life in 19th-century rural America; note that the words are by a woman.” This was a time and place in which (as in many cultures in the world) a woman passed, on marriage, from being in effect the property of her father to being in effect the property of her husband; in any case, she was wrenched from the family of her birth and transferred to her husband’s family. So marriage was a parting. Its dark view of marriage (and husbands — “One to trust who may deceive me”) might have contributed to this song’s lack of popularity, though … it’s also not especially tuneful.


One Response to “Holidays and events”

  1. Doug Harris Says:

    Arnold, I enjoyed your list of special occasions in May. I relate most to the Derby, as I attended it twice as a back stretch photographer for the Louisville Courier Journal & Times (the latter’s now defunct) and twice as a ‘civilian’ — in the center court. On one of those occasions, I don’t think I saw even ONE horse!
    ‘Also wanted to tell you that of 1000 new internet domain names being released now and soon, one is .parts. There are many obvious potential seekers after such a domain (auto parts dealers, etc.), but one suggested use was for ‘people writing about parts of speech’. I thought that was a bit of a stretch. but then again, why not?
    Doug Harris

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