"Mayday is an emergency procedure word used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure radio communications. It derives from the French venez m'aider, meaning "come help me." Wikipedia definition
Perhaps being the first of May, this is most appropriate. Rescue us from the last traces of winter. On May first, some dance around the Maypole. I remember doing this as a kid in Michigan. The teacher in elementary school would take outside and we would each take a long stream of crepe-paper and interweave ourselves as we gaily danced around the pole. Well, most of us participated. There were some boys who found it too sissified. They missed out, though. It really was some fun as we wrapped the fragile paper tighter and tighter, meeting each other on the end and usually falling down laughing.
I do remember hearing the cry "Mayday! Mayday!" in old movies about World War I or reading about it in history books. That was replaced by the offical call, "SOS", for "Save Our Souls". Not quite the same ring, but I believe it had something to do with the increased use of telegraphs and teletypes (remember those?) and the Morse Code dot-dash system.
On this first day of May, the song from Camelot comes to mind, The Lusty Month of May.
Click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pljyjiIMH9o The sap is rising as it were and a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of love. May is truly when the world (at least the northern hemisphere of it) is reborn.
Perhaps the Pilgrims knew this when they sailed on a ship called the Mayflower. Off to a new world, a rebirth of life, etc. Well, at least romantically according to legends we were taught in gradeschool so many years ago. Now we know it was not exactly a heroic time. But still, symbollically, it remains a symbol of new hope for some oppressed people fleeing the tyranny of their homeland. Again, much of this is now disputed, but for this writing, let's entertain the myth of it all. Afterall, in May, the imagination is once again stimulated.
So happy May to one and all. If April is the cruelest month, May must be the kindest, bringing with it the promise of light, love and laughter.