The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘celebrations’

Queen o’ the May

May 1, 2015 | by


The Elfin May-Pole, a Mardi Gras float design for Krewe of Proteus, New Orleans, 1887.

The other day, I received the sweetest note from an old neighbor of my family’s commenting on the beauty of spring in the town where I grew up. She recalled something I’d done many years ago: “The first year I lived here, you walked up and down the street, perhaps alone, perhaps with a friend, on May 1, to celebrate May Day. Perhaps you left a little bunch of flowers by my door?”

Perhaps I did. In any case, I’m going to guess that I was alone. I can’t imagine anyone joining me in this practice. I’d like to say it was rooted in some precocious notion of workers’ solidarity, but in fact my touchstone was more Kate Greenaway than International Socialism. (Especially given the maypole and hurdy-gurdy I requested for my eighth birthday.) Read More »

A Few Notes on Presiding over the Punch Bowl

March 21, 2014 | by


William Hogarth, A Midnight Modern Conversation, 1730

March 21st was my maternal grandparents’ wedding anniversary; they were married in 1946 in Silver Spring, Maryland, my grandmother’s hometown. As a child I loved to pore over the Silver Spring Standard wedding notice in her scrapbook, which contained lines like, “The church was massed with spring blossoms, a fitting setting for the exquisite beauty of the bride herself, in her ethereal white marquisette gown and flowing lace.” (“TERRIBLE write-up,” my grandmother had written in the margins.)

What struck me lately, as I reread the notice yet again, was the range of tasks assigned to the wedding guests. The maid of honor and best man were duly accounted for, but there was also this: “Mrs. Elizabeth McLean presided at the coffee urn and Miss Mary Roberts at the punch bowl.”

A cursory Internet search shows that this was indeed a thing: if you google “presided over punch bowl” or “presided over coffee urn,” you’ll come across a raft of vintage wedding and party notices, all of which describe the dispensing of beverages. What I really wanted to know is, was this duty—which sounds dull, potentially messy, and interminable—considered an honor, or was it a sort of booby prize for extra relatives? “Presides” has a regal ring, but the task itself sounds akin to light drudgery. Read More »