Gini Morgan, holding her basket with Kelli Atchison and Barb Leger.
Lucky DeLane Wahl celebrated his birthday May 1, and also received a May Basket from Barb Leger and Atchison.
Bonnie Onnen, a smiling face at Larry’s Super Market and Southtown, receiving a May Basket from Atchison.
Central Lutheran Church’s Kelli Atchison with Cornfiled Cafe staff Shantel Johannes, left, and Jody Bowers.

Central Lutheran Church volunteers revive nearly vanished tradition of handing out spring May Day baskets

The “May Day” tradition has been revived in the greater Pelican Rapids lakes area, thanks to Central Lutheran Church and volunteers. 

 For the third year, Central has handed out the spring basket of treats to folks from throughout the area. But it may take a few more years to get folks back up to speed on the tradition, which has become a curiosity for many Americans today. 

“So few observe May Day, it has become unfamiliar today,” said  Kelli Atchison, who distributed about 125 baskets with fellow Central Lutheran volunteer Barb Leger. 

Only about 50 percent of those receiving the baskets had a frame of reference, from their youth, to the May basket tradition. 

“We stopped at the Pelican Post Office and gave one to a gentleman coming out of the lobby,” said Atchison. The fellow smiled and commented, “I haven’t gotten one of these in almost 60 years.” 

From the Central neighborhood to Erhard to Pelican Rapids to Dunvilla, and the Cornfield Cafe, the Central volunteers delivered the goods with smiles on their faces—and a near perfect spring day May 1. 

“As kids, we used to leave May baskets on doorway,” said Atchison. 

But, between the Baby Boomers of the early 60s and the millenia youth of today, the May Day tradition has simply begun to fade away. 

The best known modern May Day traditions, observed both in Europe and North America, include dancing around the maypole and crowning the Queen of May. 

Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the tradition of giving of “May baskets,” small baskets of sweets or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbors’ doorsteps, stated an internet source. 

Since the late 1890s, May Day has also been observed to pay tribute to the contribution of workers across the world. May 1, or May Day as it is popularly known as, is observed in countries such as Cuba, India, China among other countries. May Day is also known as Workers’ Day or International Workers’ Day.

May 1 is a national holiday in many European countries.

May Day’s decline in the U.S. may also be due to its association with leftist political ideology. Though originally a simple celebration of spring, May 1 became a special day for various socialist, communist and anarchist groups—dating back more than a century. May Day, celebrating workers, is one of the most important holidays in communist countries such as China, North Korea, Cuba and the former Soviet Union countries.

For Central Lutheran, they distribute the baskets as a springtime goodwill gesture to the broader community.

“It’s not something we do just for church members, but for the community around us,” said Atchison. About ten baskets remained after the drive around the lakes area, which were all donated to Pelican Valley Senior Living.