The Month of May 2024: Holidays, Fun Facts, History, and More | The Old Farmer's Almanac

The Month of May 2024: Holidays, Fun Facts, Folklore

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Month of May, Hello May

Everything You Should Know About May!

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Celebrate the gorgeous month of May!  Find out why this month 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.

The Month of May

“May” is likely named after the Roman goddess Maia, who oversaw the growth of plants. Alternatively, the name might have come from the Latin maiores, “elders”. Learn more about the origins of the months’ names.

May Calendar

  • May 1 is May Day. Mark the return of spring by bringing in branches of forsythialilacs, 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 12 is Mother’s Day—don’t forget! Do you have something planned to show appreciation for your mother? Learn about the history of Mother’s Day. 
  • May 28 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 20 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 27 is Memorial Day—a poignant reminder of the tenacity of life. It’s tradition to raise the flag on this day; know how to fly your American flag properly.

flags at memorial day

“Just for Fun” Days

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 8 (second Wednesday in May): Root Canal Appreciation Day
  • May 14: Dance Like a Chicken Day
  • May 28: Slugs Return from Capistrano Day
Full Flower Moon
May’s full Moon traditionally goes by the name “Flower Moon.”

May Full Moon

May’s full Moon, called the Flower Moon, appears on Thursday, May 23, reaching peak illumination at 9:53 A.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 23rd or the 24th and look for that big, bright, shining lunar disk! Learn more about May’s full Moon here.

May Weather

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 2024 weather forecast.

Asparagus Frittata. Photo by zi3000/Shutterstock
Asparagus frittata. 
Photo by zi3000/Shutterstock.

Recipes for the Season

‘Tis the season of fresh, spring ingredients! Try some of these recipes that feature the first crops of the season:

Everyday Advice

As the weather warms, it’s time for spring cleaning! Get started by checking out our homemade cleaning remedies and household tips to help you around the home.

Butterfly on flower

Gardening Tips

May Folklore and Fun

A dry May and a leaking June
Make the farmer whistle a merry tune.

A snowstorm in May
Is worth a wagonload of hay.

Among the changing months, May stands confessed
The sweetest, and in fairest colors dressed!
–James Thomson, Scottish poet (1700–48)

May Zodiac Signs

Taurus: April 21 to May 20
Gemini: May 21 to June 20

See your May horoscope!

May Birth Symbols

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.

Learn more about the May birthstones.

This Month in History

May 23: What’s Your Name?

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.

Mattoon twister, 1917

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

Calendar Question

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.

How are you celebrating May this year? Do you have any special events?

About The Author

Catherine Boeckmann

Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprising that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann

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