Next year’s planning for May: Think ahead

May Day, May 1, Mother’s Day, the 2nd Sunday in May, and Memorial Day, the last Monday in May are the obvious “M” days for May celebrations. Then there’s Cinco de Mayo on May 5, a holiday I missed out on this year. I’ll buy a Dos Equis anyway. That’s not the only celebration opportunity that passed me by.

I have a calendar filled with hallmark days from around the world. Here are some of them that are significant in various parts of the world. It’s interesting to see which events or organizations have staked out a day as being special.

Don’t count on them being on the same date next year, however. Some are lunar which means, they move to match the moon’s cycle. Or some, like Memorial Day and Mother’s Day, are day specific.

  • May 2 and May 9–Both are Buddha related. May 2 was Buddha’s birthday. May 9, Vesak Day which was the biggie. It marks Buddha’s birth, death and enlightenment. Next year, meditate or head to a Buddhist temple. When we lived in Singapore, Vesak Day was a vacation day. It’s celebrated in across Asia with each country having it’s own mark. The photo is from the Lotus Lantern Festival in South Korea.
  • May 2–International Astronomy Day. Next spring, remember to look up at the stars. Better yet, head to a planetarium. One of my favorites is the one at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
  • May 8World Red Cross Day– Next year, donate blood.
  • May 12International Nurse’s Day–Next year, give a nurse a hug and some flowers. They make hospital stays bearable. You can also visit the
  • May 13–Tulip Time-Holland. Buy tulips. Give them to a nurse if you forgot Nurse’s Day. Better late than never. Or if your mother is a nurse and you forgot Mother’s Day, here’s a double opportunity to make amends. Or, to keep it simple go to the Tulip Time Festival in Holland Michigan.
  • May 14–Jamestown Day–Visit the living history museum, the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia. Or if you can’t visit, read a book about Jamestown.
  • May 17- Brown vs Board of Education–This isn’t exactly a holiday, but remember to be thankful that school segregation ended. Visit Topeka, Kansas, the centerpiece for this particular desegregation struggle.
  • May 29John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s Birthday-Visit Kennedy’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery, unless you did that on Memorial Day.

This year, on Mother’s Day I saw the Broadway national touring company’s production of The Color Purple with my daughter. On Memorial Day, my mom, son and I went to a the Selma Walker Memorial Powwow. Sometime this year, I will donate blood to make amends for missing out on Red Cross Day. I donated last year and found out what my travel history means when it comes to giving.

Buddha Day: Birth, Death and Enlightenment

If you missed Chinese New Year and the celebrations that go along with it, there are more opportunities. Buddha Day, also called Vesak Day, falls on the full moon in May. This is a time where Buddhists honor everything Buddha-his birth, death and enlightenment. When exactly events are happening is sketchy. Dates I found are scattered throughout May

You could do some temple hopping to see what’s being celebrated. Finding out exactly when that day isn’t the easiest thing. In Singapore, Chinatown will be lit up with lights starting May 19 and there’s a parade on the 30th. On May 31st head to Lian Shan Shuang Lin Temple in Toa Payoh or Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Temple on Bright Hill Road. According to the Singapore site I found Vesak Day is the 31st.

In Seoul, Korea, Buddha’s birthday is part of the Lotus Lantern Festival that starts today and goes until the 20th. The actual birthday is listed on the 24th. Head to Jogyesa Temple and Jongo. The Parade of Lanterns in the evening is a highlight. In addition to the parade, the festival has lantern making workshops, food, music, dancing. Here is a slide show that’s pretty cool. It’s one of those inspirational types with quotes and photos of festival activities.

In Taiwan, you could head to Dharma Drum Mountain. This is a Buddhist center in Taipei County with events going on every weekend. Everyone’s welcome. This is more of a ceremonial place but it might be interesting. The Web site explains symbolism associated with this day and has photographs of various happenings.