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Where Did the Tradition of Sending May Day Flower Baskets Come From?

Although not as popular in America as it is in European countries, May Day is a day of celebrating spring, fertility and femininity. It is celebrated on May 1st and the history of this holiday goes back to Roman times as a festival of flowers. This was a five-day festival in honor of the Goddess Flora with offerings of flowers, dancing, ringing bells, May Queens and dancing around the Maypole.  The Maypole was erected the night before when the men would strip down a birch tree and plant it on the ground. Long ribbons were tied to the pole and each dancer would hold onto a ribbon while dancing around the Maypole.

The tradition of celebrating May Day by dancing and singing around a maypole, tied with colorful ribbons, is still practiced today. Another European tradition that survived is hanging May baskets on doorknobs. People make small baskets filled with treats or flowers to give secretly to friends and neighbors. It is customary to leave the basket on the doorstep of a neighbor or friend, ring the doorbell and run away. If the friend catches you before you get away, you must give them a kiss.

May Day baskets are fun and easy to make. Most baskets are made from a piece of paper rolled into a cone shape. You can also use small Easter baskets and embellish them with ribbons and bows. May Day is a great holiday to get your children involved with arts & crafts.

Baskets & Related Items 

Woven Baskets & Supplies

Paper Shred & Basket Fill

Crinkle Paper

Shredded Tissue Paper in Bulk

Storage & Serving Trays



  1. When I was a kid, we used to make May Day baskets from construction paper and fill them with candy and flowers and deliver them on May 1st each year to our neighbors by hanging them on their front door knob.

  2. Ferne Freiberg April 8, 2021

    My husband and I delivered May baskets for years! So fun to hear
    the thank you calls during the day!!

  3. Sherry Evasick May 5, 2020

    I was 15 when I learned about the May Day tradition and from then on gave my mother flowers every year. No matter where I was I managed to get them to her. She passed away last November and I mentioned my sadness over it to my daughter. She then surprised me with a beautiful tropical bouquet! It’s a sweet tradition!

    • Hi Sherry! That’s so sweet! We’re glad to hear that your daughter is helping carry this tradition on with you.

  4. Lori Payne May 4, 2020

    I live in the Northwest and gave baskets when I was a child and then taught my daughter’s the tradition. My oldest, now 30, still makes and gives May Day baskets each year. It’s wonderful!

  5. Mindy shiver May 2, 2020

    Me and my daughter left flowers on our neighbors porches this year i haven’t done it since I was little we just moved here last fall so I thought it would be a nice way to say hi.

  6. Gery Horan May 1, 2020

    We did this too as kids! Pretty, colorful crepe paper baskets, filled with hard candies. We leave them on the older neighbors’ stoops, ring the bell, and run like heck!

  7. Jill Lucke May 1, 2020

    I used to observe this tradition as a child but never found any other person familiar with the May Day basket. How wonderful to know that I wasn’t the only one!

    • Peggy Oliveira May 1, 2020

      Well, Jill now you do. When I was a child in Nebraska we did this. That was 70 plus years ago. My heritage is German. I have never found anyone else who did this since leaving that area.

  8. Amber Faust April 28, 2020

    This looks so fun to restart in my neighborhood!

      • Teri April 30, 2021

        I am 57 years old & have been doing this since I have been a child.Passing on this beautiful tradition to my children.

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