I’m reposting an older blog post from 2008 that gets me a lot of email this time of year. Mostly from people who grew up in New Jersey and are trying to find the origins of this First of May Petticoat Day custom. Maybe when I retire, I’ll apply for a research grant.
First of May Petticoat Day
Was this a strange New Jersey custom? Or an old-country custom that founds its way to the East Coast? When I was a kid in the 60’s (just before love peace and brown rice) there were several customs tied to May Day. The boys mostly, but also girls would shout “First of May, Petticoat Day” and flip up the edge of a girl’s uniform skirt to show her slip. Some years I would wear shorts under my uniform so that I didn’t have on a petticoat. (a doofus even then) Then there was crowning Mary (as in the Blessed Virgin Mary) Queen of the May. I imagine this came from some attempt to christianize a pagan ritual. I was always jealous of the girl that was chosen to crown Mary. She got to wear a pretty dress and a wreath of flowers. I was never chosen for such things, because I was not small and cute, but tall and awkward. The term my grandmother would use was ‘hoyden’ — not who you want traipsing down the aisle with wreaths and flowers
Second of May was Shoelace Day, you shouted that and grabbed someone’s shoelace to untie it. These days the little un’s all seem to have velcro. (Third of May, Velcro Day?)
And since we all love pictures, here’s a first of May flower shot of my trillium.