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Celebrate the gorgeous month of May! Find out why this months is called “May” and which seven holidays are coming up. Plus, we have the May weather forecast, May full Moon, gardening tips for May, seasonal recipes, folklore, and more to bring a smile to your day.
May 1 is May Day. Mark the return of spring by bringing in branches of forsythia, lilacs, or other flowering shrubs from your region. May Day is also “Lei Day” in Hawaii. Leis are garlands or wreaths that are often made with native Hawaiian flowers such as plumeria. Nowadays, they are given as a symbol of greeting, farewell, affection, celebration, or honor, in the spirit of aloha.
May 5 is Cinco de Mayo (“The Fifth of May”). This day celebrates the victory of the Mexican army over the French army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862. Discover Mexican-American recipes and ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo!
May 20 is Armed Forces Day, which honors those who serve in all branches of the United States military.
May 22 is National Maritime Day. Created in commemoration of the first transoceanic voyage via steamboat (completed by the U.S.S. Savannah in 1819), this holiday recognizes the efforts of the U.S. merchant marine during both war and peace.
May 22 is Victoria Day in Canada. This holiday celebrates the birthday of Queen Victoria, who was born on May 24, 1819. The holiday is observed on the penultimate Monday in May.
May is Get Caught Reading Month and National Good Car-Keeping Month.
Here are some more fun things to celebrate this May:
May 1: School Principals’ Day
May 2: World Tuna Day
May 8: No Socks Day
May 10 (second Wednesday in May): Root Canal Appreciation Day
May 14: Dance Like a Chicken Day
May 28: Slugs Return from Capistrano Day
May Full Moon
May’s full Moon, called the Flower Moon, appears on Friday, May 5, reaching peak illumination at 1:36 P.M. (EDT). It will be below the horizon at this time, so for the best view of this full Moon, step outside on the night of the 4th or the 5th and look for that big, bright, shining lunar disk! Learn more about May’s full Moon here.
”A warm January, a cold May.” May acts as the bridge between spring and summer, hinting at warmer weather for those still stuck in spring’s grasp, while heating things up for those already well on their way. See our May 2023 weather forecast.
Recipes for the Season
‘Tis the season of fresh, spring ingredients! Try some of these recipes that feature the first crops of the season:
May’s birth flowers are the Hawthorn and the Lily-of-the-Valley. The hawthorn means hope, while the lily-of-the-valley symbolizes sweetness or the return of happiness. Learn more about May’s birth flowers.
May’s birthstone is the emerald. Here are a few fun facts about emeralds:
The emerald is a green type of beryl. Its color ranges from light to rich green; the more saturated hues are more valuable, especially if pure- or blue-green.
Natural emeralds are flawed, with fractures or other materials mixed in, called inclusions, which may appear as needles, columns, or cubes of minerals or bubbles of gas or liquid. Sometimes oil or resin is added to fill fractures and improve appearance.
Some of the best emeralds come from South American mines, although perhaps the oldest known came from Egypt. The emerald was a favorite gem of Cleopatra.
The emerald symbolizes rebirth and fertility and was thought to grant foresight, cure various diseases, soothe nerves, improve memory, and ensure loyalty.
On this day in 1707, Swedish botanist and naturalist Carl Linnaeus was born. One of his major achievements was the formal introduction of a system of classifying and naming organisms according to genus and species, called binomial nomenclature. The method uses Latin words (a language commonly used by scholars in his day). For example, humans are classified as Homo sapiens. Homo, meaning “man,” is the genus, and sapiens, meaning “wise,” is the species. Several species may exist within one genus, but each species only has one scientific name. Scientists today use a modified version of Linnaeus’s system. Because the same naming convention is used throughout the world, it eliminates much confusion when discussing organisms.
Did You Know? Carl Linnaeus originated the use of 0 (the symbol for Mars) to mean male and 1 (the symbol for Venus) to mean female.
May 26: Terrifying Twisters
On this day in 1917, tornadoes struck central Illinois, killing 101 people. Originally thought to be just one tornado that wreaked havoc along a 293-mile-long path, the outbreak was later determined to be four to eight tornadoes. One of them lasted 4 hours and followed a track 155 miles long (including the distance traveled while in the air). Mattoon and Charleston were especially hard hit by an F4 tornado (original Fujita scale). In Mattoon, almost 500 houses were destroyed.
According to newspaper reports:
straw was driven 1/2 inch deep into a tree
a flagpole with a flag was blown four blocks and planted upright in the ground
books and other items were carried 50 to 70 miles away
According to astronomers, what is a Julian day?
Answer: The term “Julian day” can be confusing because it has several meanings, including being a date on the Julian calendar. In astronomy, however, the Julian day (or Julian day number) is the number of days that have passed since the start of a Julian period. The Julian period is a year-numbering system developed by 16th-century French astronomer Joseph Justus Scaliger. He determined that the current Julian period began on January 1, 4713 B.C. of the Julian calendar; every 7,980 years, the count of years restarts.
For dating and comparing the timing of astronomical events and observations, John Herschel and other astronomers created a day-numbering system based on Scaliger’s Julian period. There are no months in a Julian day system; it simply counts the days, and fractions of days in decimals, since the period began. Julian day 0 occurred on January 1, 4713 B.C. The Julian day starts at noon Universal Time (Greenwich Mean Time), so that nighttime astronomical events occur on one Julian day.
A Julian date includes the fraction of a Julian day. For example, on May 1, 2016 (Gregorian calendar date), at midnight (the start of the day on a common calendar), the Julian day number was 2457509, and the Julian date was 2457509.5. On May 1, 2016, at noon, the Julian day number changed to 2457510 and the Julian date to 2457510.0.