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The Weekly Watch

Mayday, Mayday...

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Mayday is an internationally recognized radio word to signal distress. It's used mostly by aircraft and boats, and most of us are happily only familiar with it through TV and fiction.

Owing to the difficulty of distinguishing the letter "S" by telephone, the international distress signal "S.O.S." will give place to the words "May-day", the phonetic equivalent of "M'aidez", the French for "Help me." —"New Air Distress Signal," The Times [London], 2 Feb. 1923

I much prefer thinking of May day as the Beltane.

The May pole was a focal point of the old English village rituals. Many people would rise at the first light of dawn to go outdoors and gather flowers and branches to decorate their homes. Women traditionally would braid flowers into their hair. Men and women alike would decorate their bodies. Beltane marks the return of vitality, of passion.

This is also Labor day in most of the world.

The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions chose May 1, 1886 as the date when the eight-hour day would become standard. The unions organized a general strike in support and on the first, hundreds of thousands of workers protested and held rallies across the country.... Over 90 countries, including North Korea, celebrate International Workers’ Day on May 1. Poland also celebrates its Constitution Day on May 3, so the two dates combined result in a long weekend called Majowka.
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