May Ray Day is celebrated on May 19 and today we celebrate all the rays of sunshine in our lives. It’s that time of year when the remnants of spring bring the whispers of summer, and the sunshine is at its most inviting. So what are you waiting for? Take a gulp of that sweet summer air.
History of May Ray Day
The origin of May Ray Day was thanks to comedian Richard Ankli, who decided to honor his brother Ray, who was born on that same day. In 1977, the Broadway Fun Spot (nickname for a Broadway residence) in St. Joseph, Michigan, decided to commemorate the day by turning it into an official holiday. Richard Ankli is also the founder of Welcome Giving Day (celebrated in November).
Though National May Ray Day has many associations now, the general idea remains the same — to get out there and soak up some sun. It’s the chance to catch the last breath of spring along with the gentle rays precluding summer; a time when nature puts its best foot forward.
Historically, the month of May has many cultural connotations and significance. For those in agrarian societies, it marked the beginning of sowing or reaping, depending on which hemisphere they were in since May is either the last month of spring or the last month of fall.
The ancient Greeks certainly took spring seriously by celebrating the Greek god Dionysus (also known as Bacchus in Roman lore) — the god of the grape harvest, wine, fertility, rebirth, flora, revelry, and theatre. Furthermore, the month of May also has its origins in Greek mythology, as it’s named after Maia, one of the seven Pleiades (a twinkling constellation in the clear night sky).
For the literary ones, you may have heard it said that “March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers,” which can’t be more accurate. When we think of spring, we think of fertility, growth, and all-around merriment. Overall, the holiday begs to be one of enjoyment.
May Ray Day timeline
The city of Athens accepts the cult of Dionysus, officiating the festival.
The now-popular snippet on May flowers is first written in a poem.
American company Bausch and Lomb create the luxury brand Ray-Ban.
Richard Ankli commemorates the birthday of his brother, Ray, on May 19.
May Ray Day FAQs
What is the difference between National May Ray Day and May Day?
It’s easy to confuse May Ray Day with May Day (celebrated May 1), when Europeans celebrate the return of spring by dancing around the maypole. Puritans in New England found this to be pagan and licentious, therefore, it was banned and not celebrated in the U.S.
Where did the SOS call “Mayday” originate from?
In the 1920s, a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport, London, Frederick Stanley Mockford, was the first to use this signal to indicate emergencies. He was asked to come up with an easily understood term for distress, and since many of the planes flew between France and England, he came up with Mayday as a short form of the French word ‘m’aider’ (‘help me’).
What if there is no sunshine on National May Ray Day?
Get creative! Do the same things you would do on a sunny day, but indoors. If indoor picnics are not your thing, we suggest you see our other tips for celebrating May Ray Day, like curling up with Ray Bradbury’s works or swaying to the sounds of Ray Charles.
How to Celebrate May Ray Day
Take a walk
It’s simple and can make all the difference to your mood. Slather on some sunscreen, grab those Ray-Bans, and soak up some Vitamin D. Make a picnic of it, if you feel extra fancy.
Get down and dirty
Literally. Put on those gardening gloves, get out your rusty tools, and plant something to celebrate life, growth, and rebirth. Green fingers or not, you can give back to the Earth this way.
Party with Rays
Whether you want to groove to the smooth tunes of Ray Charles while out enjoying the sun’s rays, or get stuck in Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”, there’s a Ray for everyone out there. Just make sure you enjoy your favorite Ray in the sunshine and don’t forget to hashtag your relevant selfies with #NationalMayRayDay.
5 Facts About May You May Not Know
The name has mixed origins
May either originates from Maia, the goddess of plant growth; or from the Latin ‘maiores,’ meaning ‘elders.’
May has its own moon name
May’s full moon is called the Flower Moon and will be visible on May 26 this year.
Emerald is May’s birthstone
The emerald symbolizes rebirth and fertility — go figure!
May has two birth flowers
Hawthorn and lily of the valley symbolize hope and the return of happiness.
Marry in May, at your own peril
May was once considered an unlucky marriage month, as a poem says — “Marry in May and you'll rue the day.”
Why We Love May Ray Day
Every culture has a reason to celebrate
Some countries hold harvest festivals, while others revel in the headiness of spring by celebrating festivals expressing the freedom to be. It’s a time for music festivals, too.
Change is in the air
Whether you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, ushering in the summer, or the Southern Hemisphere, preparing for the fall, May is the month of transition around the world. So you have a reason to update your wardrobe, try something new, and express yourself as freely as nature does.
Rays get a day of appreciation
This does not mean that only those named Ray get special appreciation. Broaden the category a bit, and ask yourself who the special ‘rays of sunshine’ are in your life? Then go ahead and show them some love and spread the cheer.
May Ray Day dates