In the Midwest, the dandelions have already gone to seed, their fluff floating across the areas where a week earlier the flowers stood tall and bright and yellow, like lions with perfectly arranged manes. Dandy lions. Are there traces of lion or dandy in the dandelion’s name? Yes and no.
Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May) is not Mexico’s independence day, which is celebrated in September, but it is a celebration of freedom. It is a Mexican and Mexican-American celebration honoring the Mexican victory over the French at Puebla in 1862. Today, it has widened into a celebration of Mexican culture. Cinco de Mayo celebrations often include family and food, music and dancing, and the colors of the Mexican flag (green, white, and red).
May 1 is May Day, an ancient European and North American celebration of, well, quite a lot of things, including flowers, warm weather, and, in some countries, workers and the labor movement. Infoplease has a nice summary of the holidays that are observed on May 1, and Wordnik has an interesting read on May Day–related words.
Perhaps today’s abdication of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, February’s unexpected resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, or the many undergraduate hours spent reading European history have skewed my understanding of the word abdication. I was surprised to learn recently that it was not originally associated with royalty or political office.