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The month May has been named for the Greek goddess Maia, who was identified with the Roman era goddess of fertility, Bona Dea, whose festival was held in May. Conversely, the Roman poet Ovid provides a second etymology, in which he says that the month of May is named for the maiores, Latin for "elders," and that the following month (June) is named for the iuniores, or "young people" (Fasti VI.88).
In both common Western calendrical systems, no other month begins on the same day of the week as May. This month and June are the only two months that have this trait.
Events in May
- In the Roman Catholic calendar, May 1 is the feast of St. Joseph the worker. In the Catholic Church the month of May is dedicated to and honors the Blessed Virgin Mary.
- In the neopagan Wheel of the Year May begins on Beltane in the northern hemisphere and Samhain in the southern hemisphere.
- In the Irish calendar May 1 is Beltane (Bealtaine), the first day of Summer, and a public holiday is held on the first Monday in May.
- In many countries, May Day is May 1. This is celebrated as Labor Day in many countries.
- In the United Kingdom, May Day is May 1, but a public holiday is held on the first Monday in May.
- In Germany it is an old custom to plant a "Maypole" to honor someone. Often young men set up an adorned birch in front of their girlfriend's house in the night before May 1.
- In Japan, the period from April 29 to May 5, which includes 4 different holidays, is called "Golden Week". Many workers have up to 10 days off. There is also 'May sickness', where new students or workers start to be tired of their new routine. (In Japan the schoolyear and fiscal year start on April 1st)
- May 3rd: the Polish Constitution Day is celebrated in Poland.
- The first Saturday in May is the date of the annual Kentucky Derby, the most famous horse race in the United States.
- May 4th in the Netherlands is the day of Remembrance of the Dead, commemorating all the casualties in military conflicts involving the Netherlands.
- Cinco de Mayo or the Batalla de Puebla is celebrated in Mexico on May 5. It is also celebrated widely in the United States.
- May 5th is the Children's Day in Japan and Korea
- May 5th is Liberation Day in the Netherlands, celebrating the ending of the German occupation.
- In the Europe, May 5 is Europe Day (uncommon usage, largely replaced by May 9)
- In Western Europe, May 8 is VE Day. In Eastern Europe it is celebrated on May 9.
- In the European Union, May 9 is Europe Day
- Golden Spike Day (1869 - Completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad - Promontory Summit, Utah)
- On May 12, International Nurses Day is celebrated.
- Finland's Day in Finland on the 12th of May.
- May 12 is also International Awareness Day for Chronic Immunological and Neurological Diseases (CIND). These diseases include Neurofibromatosis, Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS)/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Fibromyalgia, Gulf War Syndrome and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.
- On May 17, the Norwegian Constitution Day is celebrated.
- In Chile, the Battle of Iquique (Combate Naval de Iquique), is celebrated on May 21, and it is a national holiday.
- Eritrea celebrates its Independence Day (Independence from Ethiopia) on May 24.
- In Ecuador, May 24 is remembered and celebrated as the day of the Battle of Pichincha - May 24, 1823.
- In Argentina, the May Revolution (or Revolución de Mayo), a national holiday, is on May 25.
- Towel Day is celebrated in May in tribute to Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
- Under the French Ancien Régime, it was of habit to "plant a May" or a "tree of May" in the honor of somebody. The County of Nice saw girls and boys "turn the May" with the sound of fife and drum, i.e. to dance rounds of May around the tree of May planted on the place of the village.
- The second Sunday in May is Mother's Day in the United States.
- Each year in May, the Eurovision Song Contest is held.
- The Indianapolis 500 is held on the Sunday before Memorial Day.
- Labor Day in Queensland, Australia is celebrated on the 1st Monday in May.
- In Canada, Victoria Day is celebrated on the last Monday on or before May 24.
- The last Monday of May is Memorial Day in the United States first celebrated on May 5, 1866 in Waterloo, New York.
Monthlong events in May
- Asian Pacific American Heritage Month - celebration of Asian and Pacific Islanders in the United States.
- Jewish American Heritage Month - celebration of Judaism in the United States.
- Mental Health Awareness Month - raising awareness about mental illness in the United States.
- National Military Appreciation Month - in the United States to recognize and honor the US Armed Forces.
- May is traditionally devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary in Roman Catholic traditions. May crowning occurs in some locales at the beginning of the month.
- In New Zealand, May is the New Zealand Music Month.
- May is Older Americans Month in the United States, established by John F. Kennedy in 1963.
Weeklong Events in May
2nd Week of May
- Bike Week (Bicycle Week) is a yearly international event that advocates the importance of bicycling as a means of transportation. Bike Week takes place during the second week of May or June and is typically an entire week of city-wide cycling supplemented with events.
3rd Week in May
- The League of American Bicyclists is promoting Bike-to-Work Week from May 15-19 and Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 19.
May Moving Events
- Eastern Christianity celebrates Easter on a Sunday between April 4 and May 8.
- On the full moon of May, Vesak is celebrated in many southeast Asian countries; it commemorates Siddhartha Gautama.
- In Canada, Victoria Day is observed on the Monday on or before May 24. In Quebec, it is known as Patriots Day.
First or second Friday
- Is Mother's Day in Anguilla, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bonaire, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Croatia, Curaçao, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Malta, Malaysia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Suriname, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.
- World Fair Trade Day is celebrated.
Third Saturday is the Preakness, second jewel in the triple crown of horse racing. Last Monday
- In the United States, Memorial Day, a public holiday, is on May 30, but observed on the last Monday in May.
- Is Mother's Day in Algeria, Dominican Republic, France, Haiti, Mauritius, Morocco, Sweden, Tunisia.
- Is Children's Day in Hungary.