May Holidays | Calendar Table

May Holidays

This article offers information about some of the most important May holidays. Here you will find the dates of May holidays, as well as details about the significance of these holidays, and how they are celebrated.

What Day Is Today’s May Holiday?

DateHoliday NameLocationTypeMeaning
1May DayWorldCelebrationVaries from country to country
4Star Wars DayWorldFunMay the Fourth Be With You!
5Cinco de MayoMexico/U.S.HistoricalMexico defeats the French at the Battle of Puebla
18National Armed Forces DayU.S.HistoricalCelebrating all five branches of the U.S. military
19ShavuotWorldReligiousCommemorating the day Moses brought the Torah from Mount Sinai
22Harvey Milk DayU.S./WorldHistorical/SocialCelebrating the life and achievements of Harvey Milk
28Memorial DayU.S.HistoricalCelebrating those who died while serving in the U.S. military
29VesakWorldReligiousCelebrating the day on which Buddha was born

What is the Meaning of May Holidays?

The first day in May is celebrated around the world, though this May holiday may have different significations. In some countries, mostly former Soviet countries, the 1st of May is a day on which people celebrate workers. In some countries, the first of May is also the beginning of the summer season. Other countries celebrate the rebirth of nature, or combine various pagan traditions with Christian religious ceremonies.

On the 4th of May, Star Wars fans around the world celebrate Star Wars Day! The date does not have any particular significance for the Star Wars universe or franchise. One of the earliest recorded uses of this pun came in 1979. In a chronicle about The Empire Strikes Back, author Alan Arnold noted that when Margaret Thatcher became the first female prime-minister of Britain, her party took put out an ad in the London Evening newspaper to celebrate her victory. The ad read “May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations”.

Cinco de Mayo is a significant holiday in Mexican culture. It celebrates the day on which the Mexican army defeated the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. On this day in 1862, a relatively small number of Mexican soldiers defetead a significantly larger and better equipped French army, against all odds. This May holiday does not represent the Mexican Independence Day, as some believe. Mexican Independence is celebrated on September 16. Cinco de Mayo is significantly more popular in the U.S. than in Mexico.

In the U.S., May 18 2018 marks the National Armed Forces Day. While there are separate days to celebrate each branch of the U.S. military, on Armed Forces Day, all branches are celebrated. Armed Forces Day does not have a fixed date. It is always celebrated on the third Saturday in May. This May holiday is celebrated with parades, receptions, air shows and other military displays.

In Jewish culture, the sixth day of the Jewish month of Sivan marks Shavuot. In the Gregorian calendar, Shavuot may fall anywhere between May 15 and June 14. On this day, Jews celebrate two very important events. One is the wheat harvest in Israel. It also marks the day God gave the Jewish people the Torah at Mount Sinai.

May 22 commemorates the life and achievements of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the United States. Following a series of political, economic and social shifts, in 1972 Milk was elected as a city supervisor for the Castro distric of San Francisco. While in office, he passed a series of gay rights ordinances for San Francisco. His tumultuous time in office lasted only 11 months. On November 27, 1978 he was assassinated by Dan White, another city supervisor. White also killed the mayor of San Francisco at the time, George Moscone.  While Milk’s life and career bear significance mostly for the U.S. LGBTQ+ community, Milk has come to be celebrated by LGBTQ+ communities around the world.

Memorial Day is a significant May hooliday in U.S. culture. It does not have a fixed, but it is always celebrated on the first Monday of May. Unnoficially, it is the first day of the summer vacation season. From a historical and cultural point of view, Memorial Day celebrates those who have died while serving in the U.S. military. On this day, family members and volunteers visit national cemeteries and place flags and flowers on the graves.

Vesak is celebreated by Buddhists around the world in the April-May period. Vesak does not have a fixed date. In 1950 the World Fellowship of Buddhists greed to celebrate the birth, enlightment and death of Gautama Buddha. Vesak is always celebrated on the full moon in Vaisakha. When two full moons occur in the same month, some Buddhist communities choose to celebrate on one date, while others on the next full moon.

Any May Holidays Missing?

Which May holidays do you celebrate? Have we left them out? Let us know in the comments!

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