May is a month filled with vibrant events and celebrations worldwide, each rich with history and tradition. Here’s a look at some of my favorite May events that blend cultural significance, a festive spirit, and the promise of summer.

  1. Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) – Mexico and the United States

Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s unexpected victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. While not a major strategic win in the overall context of the Franco-Mexican War, the victory held significant symbolic value for Mexico and bolstered the resistance movement. Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a broader celebration of Mexican culture and heritage in the United States, featuring parades, music, folkloric dancing, traditional foods, and margaritas.

  1. Mother’s Day (Second Sunday in May) – Various Countries

Mother’s Day has different origins depending on the country. In the United States, the modern version of Mother’s Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in the early 20th century to honor the sacrifices mothers faced when sending their sons off to battle. It quickly became popular, spreading to other countries and adopting various forms and traditions, including giving flowers, cards, and other gifts to celebrate motherhood. Celebrating any woman or man who took on a mother’s role in your life is terrific.

  1. Victoria Day (Monday preceding May 25th) – Canada

Victoria Day was established as a holiday in the Canadian provinces as early as 1845 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s birthday. Victoria Day has since become a public holiday observed across Canada. It marks the unofficial start of the summer season in Canada, featuring fireworks, parades, and concerts, reflecting Canada’s ties to the British crown and its historical figures. I love any event that commemorates the end of cold weather and the beginning of summer.

  1. Beltane (May 1st) – Various Countries

Beltane is one of the four major Gaelic seasonal festivals—alongside Samhain, Imbolc, and Lughnasadh—traditionally celebrated in most of Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. It marks the beginning of summer and is associated with various rituals intended to promote fertility, protect from harm, and celebrate the blooming season. Modern celebrations often include bonfires, dancing, and traditional Gaelic songs and feasts.

  1. Memorial Day (Last Monday of May) – United States

Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day began after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century, it had extended to honor all Americans who died in military service. Traditional observances include visiting cemeteries, holding family gatherings, participating in parades, and, in many cities, marking the beginning of the summer season.

These events provide a reason for celebration and serve as critical cultural touchstones that link the present with the past. Whether it’s through remembering historical battles, honoring motherhood, welcoming the summer, or paying tribute to fallen heroes, May is a month that holds deep significance across the globe.