My granddaughter's birthday and the celebration of May Day

  • Susan Anderson-Khleif and her late husband, Baheej.

    Susan Anderson-Khleif and her late husband, Baheej. Courtesy of Susan Anderson-Khleif

Posted5/1/2023 12:01 AM

My dear granddaughter, Irit, was born on May 1. Now she's already a mother herself. And a great one. Time flies.

I always think of her today. It's also my birthday! And my sister Mary's birthday is tomorrow, May 2. I think it's not unusual that families have members with the same birthday or close. We were four siblings growing up and three of us were born in May and April.


When I was growing up, May Day was a big children's holiday. While the rest of the world was celebrating May 1 as an international workers/labor day, we were filling May baskets with candy and leaving them on the doorknobs and steps of our friends' houses. It was also a sort of sweetheart's day for the older kids. Little heart-shaped candies had short messages on them such as "Love" or "I (Heart) You" or other good wishes.

My beloved Baheej always made lots of celebration and a big fuss over my birthday and I loved that. I did that for his July birthday as well. He'd stretch out my week with cards and gifts. I kept many birthdays cards from Baheej and get them out to reread and look at every May -- including today.

I've noticed, of course, the U.S. May Day as a children's holiday has all but disappeared. Looking into it, I found that indeed it's pretty much extinct. Supposedly it is still celebrated with May baskets in some pockets of the U.S., but I'm not sure where. Looking into it, it's probably in a few small towns in northern Minnesota or upper Michigan. It's probably too innocent and old-fashioned for most of the country.

I also found out that during the post-World War II Cold War, the recognition of international workers day on May 1 was dropped in the U.S. and replaced with the now also-dropped children's holiday, which was a diversionary holiday. But as a baby boomer, I miss all that. I just grew up with May baskets.

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Some of our big holidays have religious or ethnic origins, of course, but many others have either political or commercial origins. So it is.

The point is: I'm left with May 1 as a Happy Birthday holiday. For granddaughter Irit and myself, it's a holiday full of happy memories of my beloved Baheej, my parents, grandparents and my brothers.

So that's plenty for one holiday. Holidays evolve, and so must we. Happy May Day to all!

• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a doctorate in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at or see her blog See previous columns at

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