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There’s No Time Like May for the Holidays

Published on Wed, 04/25/2018 - 08:01am

Spring is, at long last, in the air—maybe this time to stay. As May rolls around, remember that there are plenty of holidays to observe during the month that, for those of us here in the Midwest, is kind of a bridge to summer.

Of course, we kick off the month with May Day. I’ve never done much to observe this holiday, which if memory serves correctly, is mostly about leaving flowers or gifts on people’s doorsteps. And everyone knows that the month finishes off with Memorial Day, which despite being known for cookouts and get-togethers, is actually intended to be a more somber reminder of those who sacrificed life and limb in service to their country.

But in between—during the first weekend of May, in fact—there is a triple play of holidays that may send you to your neighborhood Library to learn more. The best known of the three is Cinco de Mayo.

Growing up, I always heard that Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May”) was the Mexican Independence Day. As an adult, I learned that this isn’t true at all. That holiday is actually in September. Instead, Cinco de Mayo commemorates an against-the-odds battlefield victory over the French in 1862. In Mexico, it’s not nearly as big of a deal as it is in the United States, where millions seize the opportunity to enjoy tacos and margaritas.

But just because Cinco de Mayo isn’t the Mexican Independence Day shouldn’t keep you from using the holiday to learn more about Mexico. Mexico has a rich history, culture, and traditions, and the Library has everything you need (short of an actual visit south of the border) to learn more, including materials for children and adults in a variety formats—fiction, nonfiction, music, movies, art, and everything in between.

The day before, May 4, is a somewhat newer holiday. For generations of us who have spent the past several decades following Luke Skywalker, his friends, and his enemies, this is Star Wars Day— designated because of the way the Star Wars phrase “May the force be with you.” can be altered to “May the fourth be with you.” I’m sure even Star Wars novices know that the Library has movies, books, audiobooks, magazines, and even music galore to immerse you in a galaxy far, far away.

Which brings me to the third holiday—a lesser-known one that shares the glory on the calendar with Star Wars Day. Dave Brubeck Day is also May 4. Brubeck, a jazz pianist who died just a few years ago, was an innovative musician who was well known for his use of unusual time signatures and tempo combinations in his compositions. We celebrate him on May 4 because his most famous tune, “Take Five,” famously uses a 5/4 time signature. If you want to learn more, MCPL has dozens of CDs to choose from, not to mention streaming and downloadable tracks through Freegal Music.

Happy Holidays!

Eric C.
Excelsior Springs Branch

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