The first of May


We used to have quite a celebration here in Israel on the first of May… back when we were a socialist country. There were red flags everywhere, and lots of flowers. People wore flowers on their lapels, and gave each other flowers. Long ago, I had a red cat that I loved. He was about twice the size of the cat above, and about the same color. And he was the most intelligent cat I ever had… and as devoted to me as Nechama is these days. I called him Fidel, in honor of Castro, who had just recently taken over Cuba at the time. You know, it seemed like a good name for a red cat. And on the first of May, he would get a nice big bowl of cream to celebrate.

But Israel is a democratic country, and in the 1980s, the public decided that socialism wasn’t such a good system after all, and slowly but surely, we changed direction. People liked the American system, and now we have a free enterprise economy, though there are still some remnants around of the way things used to be. But no one celebrates the holiday anymore. Now it’s just another day. On my walk this morning, I remembered the red flags… but there are none these days.


Still, if I want to, I can give you a flower. So here’s a wild orchid I found on my walk on independence day. Enjoy.


58 responses to “The first of May

  1. Red flags might be gone and with them whatever they stood for….but the flowers wouldn’t ever be gone ever and there will always be an occasion to celebrate!

  2. Yes, you can give me a flower if you want to. and I thank you. It’s a wonderful flower because you did not cut it down to make the offering.

    • That’s one of the unique things about the time we’re living in. I hear that people go on safaris these days to shoot the animals with their cameras, rather than killing living things for sport. Almost unbelievable that things have improved so much in a couple of generations. And it’s a great pleasure to share with you, George. Thanks.

  3. Beautiful, Shimon.

    As you can imagine, I have mixed emotions on days like today. But there are some emotions that I’m never mixed on.

    And one of those is your company.

    We hope that all is well with you and yours.

    Bill & Goddess

    • And it is always a pleasure to hear from you too, my friend. Yes, life is coming along, and the spring is a time for reawakening. I love those pictures of your new environment, Bill, and wish you great hiking and biking. My very best to the Goddess.

  4. Thank you for sharing this history, and personal story. I love that you still treasure the memory of your big red cat. Mine was all black, raised with baby formula from an eye dropper, and she thought she was human.

    • Yes, I know about cats who think they’re human. There was one cat I used to live with… when I’d come home after a long day’s work, I’d find him sitting on an armchair in front of the TV, with his legs crossed. I started thinking he was human too. And he too was a black cat. So glad you enjoyed the post, Naomi.

  5. May Day is a celebration of spring here in the UK and is marked by a public holiday on the Monday closest to the 1st. Thank you for sharing your history with us Shimon.

    • My pleasure, Chillbrook. Didn’t know that the holiday was celebrated in England. It must have a different message there than it had here. My best wishes for a beautiful spring.

  6. dear Shimon: cats are the best animal-symbol for a strong first May Labour Day – because the refuse to work for others. Dogs are brave we know (and sheep) – but cats are always considering, how to work NOT!
    Shalom by
    gave an answer to your comment there …

    • It’s true, Dietmar, that cats don’t like to work. They are the philosophers among us. But work is not such a bad thing. I have worked all my life, and enjoyed it very much. I would say that some of my finest hours were at work. And it seems to me that at this point in history, we could design new formats for work rather than stick to the old story of the oppressed workers. Thanks for the comment.

  7. Thank you for the flower…
    …it is beautiful – as is the cat.

  8. Thank you for the flower, which is very nearly red, and for the thoughts, and for the celebration of spring.

  9. Beautiful flower. It looks like a hyacinth and a can almost smell it from here. Thank you for the thought!

    • We are very well blessed with flowers here. And I hear the birds chirping through the window as I write this minute. It is a wonderful season, and a pleasure to enjoy the colors, and the light.

  10. Interesting flower…..we have something similar and now I’m going to have to see if is part of the orchid family. We have three big red cats around here…..and I think they ARE socialists…..elite socialists 😉

    • Seems to me that most cats are independents. They don’t take to organizing that much, so I’m not sure they’re socialists… but they usually manage to enjoy life with a minimum of work. We have so many wild flowers now. It’s really a pleasure to see them on my walks. Wishing you a very beautiful spring, Linda.

  11. Thanks for sharing more history that I don’t know. Meanwhile, cheers to personal pets!

  12. (Yay! I received your post in my e-mail! 🙂 ) When I was growing up, we always celebrated May as the month of the Virgin Mary and we’d have a “May Crowning” procession from the playground into the church…reminded me of the old English May poles…It seems spring calls forth good cheer, rituals and reason to celebrate, no matter the names, beliefs and causes…I love the story of your red cat and I love the flower. Thank you, Shimon; sending you a virtual bouquet!

    • Very glad you got the notices straightened out, Catherine. I see from other comments as well as yours, that Americans celebrate this day without it being connected to socialism. For us, it was always a somewhat political holiday, dedicated to the workers, and social issues. Glad you enjoyed the post. I am sure you would have loved Fidel.

  13. Shimon…beautiful post w/gorgeous flower and handsome cat. Michael and I have a lovely Ragdoll cat that seems like ‘our boss’ but so charming. We’ve also come to ‘inherit’ a community cat, Tommy. Somehow, he’s no longer a community cat…he lives outside of our house! He’s very nice and humble! While living in China we experienced the huge Communist holiday during May…gigantic I should say. In the U.S. it’s simply the 1st of May…and like always, God has provided us w/an awesome life (along w/a beautiful red rose outside our breakfast nook and gorgeous pink roses out our front entrance)…God is most wonderful…aah, indeed He is! Thanks for your words and picture.

    • So glad you liked the flower and my friend, the red cat. I do love ragdoll cats too. I visited the US a couple of times, and traveled there and really loved the country. It is so big, but also a very open country, and a truly democratic one. I didn’t get to see the May 1 holiday, but I can imagine it must be very nice. Thanks for your comment, Vasca.

  14. In truth I don’t like politics…
    there is always an hegemonic search and this isn’t good for the people, for the Earth, for the animals…
    I wish that one day there will be the way to “rule with the heart”… but is this just a dream?!
    The first of may, since 11 years, is the anniversary of the death of my belowed dad… there still the fragrance of his presence…
    At least the violet flower and the lovely red cat are a nice gift to me (I really love both 😉

    • I understand you Claudine. I don’t like politics either. But I see it as a necessity for a free democratic state. I hope that on the anniversary of the death of your dear father, you remember all the good times with him, and not just the end of his life… I liked the way you spoke of the ‘fragrance of his presence’. That is very beautiful. Best wishes for a very enjoyable spring.

  15. Happy May day, Shimon!

  16. I used to work for a local authority in London and we always used to get May Day off, I think that tradition has changed now. But here in hastings we have a different kind of May day celebrations – you might find it fun to take a look at Shimon

    • I checked out the link you included, and it looks like a lot of fun. From some of the comments and mails I’ve received, I realize now that in the west, May 1st wasn’t as political a holiday as it was here. Hoping you have good weather and good spirits these days, Claire. Thanks for the comment.

  17. The flower is lovely. Thank you! Interesting comments, Shimon. When I was young, the celebration of May Day was a joyous one. The chosen dozen or so high schools girls performed a May Day dance, each holding a long ribbon attached to the top of a tall pole. Through some intricate pattern, they danced around the May pole and eventually wove the ribbons from the top down, until the entire pole was covered in the gaily-dolored ribbons. I so enjoyed the ceremony each year, but at some point, the dance (prossibly Celtic in origin??) was discontinued.. This was in America, so I’m not so sure the demise had to do with the type or government as much as we were introducted to TV and other ‘modern’ inventions. The eventually sent interests and customs in new directions. Just a thought. Do hope you and Nechama celebrated the day in high style.

    • Ah, it sounds wonderful, Myra. We had fold dances too, and public singing. And I think that the modern world has less interest in such activities. It’s a shame. We did have a good time, though, and I’ve been enjoying some very sweet visits all week. Thanks for your comment.

  18. Greetings again on this beautiful 1st of May, Shimon … the flower is a lovely reminder of spring … looks a bit like our fireweed … one the first wildflowers out here in AB … and cats, well, you know I love them … I have my tabby Theo here with me basking in the sun …

    • So glad to hear that you’re enjoying the sun together with Theo these days, cat. And I hope you have a lot of wildflowers around. Always good to hear from you. And my best wishes for a lovely spring.

  19. Happy First of May, Shimon! When I was a child “May Day” was celebrated as a type of spring festival. Children prepared small paper baskets filled with candies and left them on the doorstep of friends, with the idea being to ring the doorbell and then leave quickly so as not to be identified. I’m not sure where the tradition began, but it was much fun and I smile to remember all those lovely pastel baskets lined up to be delivered. That tradition, like so many others that I grew up with, has disappeared over the years, and I miss it, just as you miss the pageantry of May First there. It is amazing to me how much ways of life change over a period of fifty years, some days I feel much like an ancient dinosaur, remembering things that the young people have never heard of nor experienced. It is good we still have our memories. I was delighted with the beautiful flower you present us with, to me it says Spring, and that makes me smile! I hope your day has been good, even if more subdued that it once was.

    • It is wonderful having a spring festival. For us, that is Passover, though sometimes, spring is not that well felt when we have the holiday. And so, for us, the 1st of May was more of a political holiday, but with many social undertones. The way you describe the holiday that you knew makes it sound all the better. And I do hope that the young generation has its holidays too. Here we have outdoor concerts in the summer, as well as craft and cultural festivals. It’s a good time for all ages. Thank you for your comment, Josie.

  20. Happy May Day to you Shimon. I recall as did Myra of doing a dance around a May Pole. I believe it was in middle school. Now i wonder how many “wild” orchids grow in your country. Would love to see more. Yes, I have a cat that owns me too.

    • Yes Bob, dancing around the May Pole sounds wonderful. We do have a lot of wild flowers in this season. The fields are full of them, and this morning, as I was walking in the park, I saw some wild flowers poking out of the well cultivated grass. They have a will of their own. And as for the cats who have humans as pets… you know how fond I am of them. I can’t resist.

  21. Happy First of May to you, Shimon. What a beautiful flower, this wild orchid! Cheers to you and your memories of your red cat, Fidel. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Lemony. It’s really beautiful here, with many wildflowers. Wishing you much of the same. And yes, Fidel was a great friend for many years.

  22. It was just another day, yet you found a flower to give us. I hope you’re day was a good one.

    • Fortunately, I don’t need official days in order to celebrate, and the spring is very beautiful now, and I’m enjoying every day. Thanks for your good wishes, Angeline. And I wish you all the pleasures of spring.

  23. Happy May Day dear Shimon, I loved your photographs. Thank you, love, nia

    • Thank you so much, Nia. I hope you’re enjoying this spring weather as much as I am, and that you have many wildflowers in your village. Best wishes to you always.

  24. That is interesting… we too celebrate 1st May and in our church we celebrate St Joseph the Worker…. which ties in with what you said…but was previously celebrated as May Day, an ancient Spring festival. May is also treated as Mary’s month so lots of thoughts dedicated to Our Lady in the RC church…. and I do think the old pagan traditions are very apparent in that we think of Mary as being The Lady of the Place… and I like that…

    Lovely pink flower…

    • Since we have a different calendar, the 1st of May never had a chance to become part of our cultural tradition… I suppose that is why it was adopted as a more political holiday. But it is spring, and so great fun to celebrate. Thanks for your comment, Lilo.

  25. Happy belated 1st May. And thank you for the wild orchid, Shimon!

  26. Thank you for the flower, the photo of the cat, and the story – big smile at the thought of your red cat and the bowl of cream 🙂

  27. Awwww….thanks for the wild orchid, it’s beautiful.
    Fidel sounds wonderful, if only our animal friends could live as long as us….Happy May day Shimon. xxxx

    • I am usually heartbroken when an animal friend dies… but after a while, I get on with life, and put it behind me. But Fidel was so exceptional, he has stayed with me somehow… Thank you, Dina.

  28. Thank you for the flower. In the U.S., we don’t seem to celebrate May Day very much, but in the elementary school I attended (several millennia ago), we had maypole dances on the 1st of May.

    • It seems that this generation is more insulated from nature… and so their celebrations are a bit different. But fortunately, it seems that the appreciation of life and joy has continued to grow with the passing years. Always good to hear from you, yearstricken. Thank you.

  29. Nice articles you write Sir, simple and refreshing. Came to know a country not very familiar with.

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