Berger’s Burg: May salutes military, moms, Mets, maypoles – QNS.com

Berger’s Burg: May salutes military, moms, Mets, maypoles

Took her out in July, ‘neath an August moon.

And all through Sept., he kept admiring her charms,

And all through Oct., they were locked in each other’s arms.

By Alex Berger

In the middle of May, he met a girl named June.

Took her out in July, ‘neath an August moon.

And all through Sept., he kept admiring her charms,

And all through Oct., they were locked in each other’s arms

November to Jan., the run-around began.

February to March, he was a worried man.

It wasn’t ‘til April that she said, “OK.”

They were married, in the middle of May.

– A Mayan love song

May is here. It took a full year for it to come around and I shall embrace every one of its 31 days. However, did anyone ever tell you that May was not always the fifth month of the year? No? Well, prepare yourself for a bit of fascinating, archaic history.

In early Roman days, the calendar year began in March, which made May the third month of the year. It took the Romans many moons to change it. Why? I guess they just got tired of the month coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb.

How was the month named? No, it was not named for baseball’s great Willie Mays. A few historians believe the month was named for Maia, the Roman goddess of spring and growth. Some think that May’s name was short for “majors,” which is Latin for “older men.” And the Romans, in a romantic mode, held May to be sacred for the “juniors,” or “younger men.”

May includes many celebrations, and is Asian-Pacific-American Heritage Month and Senior Citizens’ Month. And May 1 is May Day. To welcome back spring and flowers, children in the United States and Great Britain celebrate by dancing around a maypole.

Similarly, in days of yore, merry auld England held a spring festival to honor Flora, the goddess of flowers. The Brits considered the pine tree to be sacred, so they made the tree a part of the celebration. When the Romans conquered England, they designated the pine tree to be the maypole. It certainly was noble of the Romans not to have chosen the sequoia tree. Otherwise, it would have taken the tykes a month of Sundays to dance around it.

The Roman style was to set the pole on the village green and decorate it with flowers and ribbons. Every year, a May queen was picked and crowned with flowers. I heard through the grapevine that there once was a year when the only candidates vying for the title of queen were Rosie O’Donnell, Kathy Bates and Queen Latifah.

With that list of candidates, the Romans wisely canceled the election and chose a May king instead. The winner was former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

The Romans danced around the maypole, holding the ends of the ribbons that ran down from the top of the pole. As they danced, they wove the brightly colored ribbons under and over and around the maypole. Thus, the ancient art of crocheting was invented.

Over time, a few grumps in England believed that the merrymakers were worshiping the maypole, so a law was passed forbidding it. But the maypole ceremony was soon reinstated and, to this very day, school children still sing and dance around the maypole on May Day. Kids, does your school have a maypole?

May is also blessed with other memorable dates. May 3 is the National Day of Prayer. May 5, Cinco de Mayo, is celebrated in Mexico. This was the day in 1862 when Mexico defeated the French in the Battle of Puebla.

Remember that great Mexican general, Ignacio Zaragoza? Also on the same date, Japan celebrates Children’s Day, a time when symbols of strength, courage and determination are displayed. Young boys and girls are brought into their Shinto shrines, where the priests bless them and wave white streamers over their heads. May 8 is VE Day, the day Germany surrendered unconditionally in 1945, ending the war in Europe. May 13 is National Teacher Day, so go thank a teacher.

Of course, May 11 brings us the mother of all holidays — Mother’s Day. That is the time when many mothers have the dubious distinction of being driven to a restaurant. They quietly sit in the car, snarled in traffic, and patiently wait and wait and wait, displaying a frozen smile all the while.

At the conclusion of the day, the moms thank their children for this unique pleasure. They are thankful that Mother’s Day comes around just once a year. (I remember the perpetual smile of my mother, whose birthday was May 25, on many a Mother’s Day.)

May 17 is also the day in 1954 when the U.S. Supreme Court rendered its monumental desegregation decision in Brown vs. Board of Education. This act led to the forced integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. in 1957. I mustn’t forget Armed Forces Day, which also is on May 17, and Memorial Day, which is on May 30 but is celebrated on May 26. Our military and its fallen deserve the honors.

And last, but not least, May is the time when Gloria and I renew acquaintances with the animals in the Bronx Zoo. After exchanging greetings with them, we rush over to the Flushing Meadows Zoo to see our smaller animal friends. We also enjoy other treats, such as smelling the roses at the Queens Botanical Gardens, watching our Mets at Shea Stadium and walking the streets and parks of TimesLedger country.

But best of all, I love to see Gloria plant flowers in our garden. As the old Chinese proverb puts it: If you want to be happy for an hour, get drunk; if you want to be happy for three days, get married; if you want to be happy for eight days, kill your pig and eat it. But, if you want to be happy forever, plant a garden.

Yoo-hoo, Gloria, will it be roses or petunias this year? (G.B.: Alex, dearest, it’s tulips and impatiens.)

So, readers, enjoy the merry, merry month of May right long with Gloria and me. You have to admit that we couldn’t ask for a more pleasant month.

Reach columnist Alex Berger by e-mail at timesledger@aol.com, or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 140.

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