May Day at 100: Simmons College revitalizes its oldest tradition
300 The Fenway welcomes guest blogger Deana LaFauci '12!
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Simmons College's oldest tradition, May Day. To celebrate the historical milestone, students, faculty, and staff have joined together to update the tradition to include the entire Simmons community.
The May 1, 2012 centennial event, "May Day at 100: Envision the Past, Imagine the Future," is anything but traditional. For the first time in its 100-year history, May Day will be celebrated on both the residence and academic campuses, with an extension of the tree planting tradition to the academic campus. It was designed to incorporate populations of the Simmons community who may not otherwise have the opportunity to be part of the early-morning event on the residence campus.
"When we heard that this year was the 100th anniversary of May Day, we all were excited about the possibility of working with the sophomore class council and its president Tania Bajwa '14," says Associate Dean of the Simmons School of Management Mary Dutkiewicz. "And to see if together, we could celebrate it in grand style."
The first event is the traditional morning event held on the residence campus with the maypole dance, alumnae speeches, and Strawberry Breakfast.
The afternoon event is a 100th anniversary campus-wide celebration, which will include speakers, tea and strawberry shortcake, a tree planting, and more. It will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Fens cafeteria.
May Day celebrations date back to around 240 BC with the festival of Floralia, the goddess of flowers and spring. During Simmons' May Day centennial, the Simmons community will seek to identify a current and future place for the tradition at the College. Professor Mary Jane Treacy says the rituals underlying Simmons' contemporary May Day developed out of a connection to an ancient European heritage.
"In early modern Europe, the maypole and girls being pushed on swings were customs that had developed out of more ancient fertility rites," says Professor Treacy. "Will the maypole tradition flourish at Simmons? That will depend on the community giving meaning to the practice for the present day."
For many members of the Simmons community, May Day and other long-standing traditions have become a point of school pride. They provide a valuable opportunity to appreciate the past as well as the generations of Simmons women who have come before.
"My favorite part of May Day is waking the seniors up at dawn and the tree planting," says English major Nicole Cunha '13. "Traditions connect the present to the past, unifying us as one community. History and tradition live on even after we move on."
Deana LaFauci is a senior English Literature major with minors in Public Relations and Political Science. She is a member of the Honors Program at Simmons College and Sigma Tau Delta. In addition, she has been employed as a Communications Assistant at Comcast for two summers. Her piece on Sudanese refugees was published in Simmons College's Essays and Studies. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DeanaLaFauci.