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Reflections: In the merry month of May

In the merry month of May
By William L. Bulla
Weekly Contributing Writer

What makes the month of May so merry? It's probably all those observances of holidays throughout the month. From my childhood, I recall dancing around a May Pole at school on May 1, celebrating Mother's Day on the second Sunday of the month, and watching parades on Memorial Day at the end of May. Now we seem to have many, many more observances, some of which I find bizarre.
May Day (May 1) is celebrated in many places around the world. The traditions and stories surrounding May Day vary from place to place. The one thing that is similar in most celebrations is the use of flowers! A popular activity on May Day is to decorate a pole with brightly colored ribbon or paper streamers. Some also add flowers and balloons. The pole is usually carried in a parade and then placed in the ground at a designated area. People then dance around the May pole, holding the ends of the streamers or ribbon in their hands.
Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "Fifth of May") is a Mexican holiday that celebrates the unlikely victory of the Mexican Army over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Cinco de Mayo is not the celebration of Mexican Independence that is celebrated on September 16th. What Cinco de Mayo has come to be is much more than one battle in the colonial history of Mexico. Rather, it has come to signify Hispanic and Mexican pride and a time to celebrate the rich culture. It is a time of song, dance, partying, and in general a time to be proud to be of Hispanic descent.
Two other special days occur on May 5: Oyster Day and National Hoagie Day. What? Oyster Day in May? Is it safe to eat oysters during the months without R's? Yes. Fresh oysters properly refrigerated are wholesome and nutritious throughout the year. They spoil rapidly at high temperatures, however. The belief that oysters were unsafe to eat in May through August arose in earlier days when refrigeration was less prevalent than it is today. Oysters are a delicacy, enjoyed by many. Others find oysters to be an acquired taste.
National Hoagie Day was created to give us a special day to enjoy and celebrate a big, tasty hoagie. You know of this big sandwich as a hoagie, a sub or a hero. And, it's a regular on most diets in America. The popularity of the Hoagie sub is partly due to the diversity and variety of its contents. It can be hot or cold, luncheon meat or meatballs, and will contain no cheese, or a variety of cheeses. Then, the fun begins as you pile on any number and combinations of extras.
And, can you guess what day falls on May 6? Well, just keep on eating those Hoagies, as it is International No Diet Day. This day is intended for us to appreciate the body we have. It encourages us to recognize that people come in all shapes and sizes. And, there are many other days of the month when food is celebrated. There is National Roast Leg of Lamb Day on May 7; Butterscotch Brownie Day on the 9th; National Shrimp Day on the 10; followed by Eat What You Want Day on May 11. From May 12 through May 28 we are celebrating Nutty Fudge Day, Buttermilk Biscuit Day, Chocolate Chip Day, Cheese Souffle Day, Pizza Party Day, Quiche Lorraine Day, Strawberries 'n' Cream Day, Vanilla Pudding Day, Taffy Day, Escargot Day, Cherry Dessert Day, and Hamburger Day. It's a month of celebrating food.
Amid all these eating events, don't forget Mother's Day (May 8). On May 8, 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.
Are you superstitious? Then, Friday the 13th is a day you may look forward to with fear! Friday the 13th, is an unlucky day, a day when bad things can happen. Whatever you do, don't walk under a ladder, and don't let a black cat cross your path on this day. Throughout most of recorded history, the number 13 has been seen as an unlucky number. If you live in fear of the number 13, you suffer from Triskaidekaphobia. May is the only month in 2011 to have the 13th fall on a Friday. Look out for 2012, as it will occur in January, April and July.
Memorial Day (May 30), a day of remembrance for the fallen men of the armed forces of the United States, is a holiday of which many cities claim to be the originator. After the Civil War, Decoration Day, as it was called then, was established to honor the fallen servicemen by putting flowers on their graves, in 1868. In 1971, Memorial Day was proclaimed a national holiday by an act of Congress.
I hope your month will be merry. I know that if you celebrate all these special days you will not be hungry.

William L. Bulla is a freelance writer residing in Washington County.

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