When I was little, May was my second favorite month, because four important events occurred — May Day, my birthday, Mother’s Day, and at school we got to crown Mary, Queen of the May.
My sisters and I loved to make baskets of colored paper (or just plain paper we colored with crayons), fill them with flowers we picked, and hang them on our neighbors’ doors. Although there were lots of children in our neighborhood in the 50s, there were also many older couples, and they were the main recipients of our little baskets.
At school we had a sort of mini May Queen celebration in our classroom, the highlight of which was the crowning ceremony. Our teacher (usually a nun in those days) would line up the girls and boys according to height — shortest in the front. The shortest girl got to crown the statue of Mary, and that was always either me or my best friend, Linda Harmon. Linda and I were constantly checking to see who would be the shortest in a particular year. I actually grew up thinking it was wonderful to be short — you not only got to do the May Queen thing, but you also got to be the first in line for every procession, and there were a lot more opportunities for processions than you might imagine. I wanted to include a maypole in our celebration, but we never did — they probably thought it was a pagan ritual.
P.S. Jane’s comment below made me think about the tall girls in our class who had no hope of ever crowning the May Queen. I don’t remember any controversy about this, and I know I just accepted it — probably nobody thought to question the nuns. I like to think now that those girls realized all the time that it’s really much cooler to be tall.