Events in Magnificent May 2023
Highlights of key holidays, events, and anniversaries in May 2023
Welcome to May. It's one of the busiest months of the year, with over 580 events and counting. Journalism and writing have their big day with the announcements of the Pulitzer Prizes (May 8). In 60% of the world, mothers will celebrate Mother's Day (May 14). The Scripps Spelling Bee takes place May 30-June 1 in Washington, DC. The Webby Awards presentation will be on May 15, with the winners announced on April 25.
International May Day, a national or public holiday in many countries, celebrates organized labor worldwide on May 1. Haitian, Asian & Pacific Islanders and Jewish Americans celebrate their heritage months. Older Americans (65+) have their month. Additional themes include physical fitness, outdoor safety, pets, healthcare careers, and vision health.
Human rights and justice advocates worldwide mark the solemn, continuing, and unresolved 75th anniversary of Al-Nakba on May 15—a non-fiction Hunger Games-like quarter-quell for the seven million people still forced to live it.
National holidays include Constitution Day in Norway (May 17, 1814), Japan (May 3, 1947), The Marshall Islands (May 1, 1979), and Poland (May 3, 1791).
Independence Day will be celebrated in Georgia (May 26, 1919/1991), Eritrea (May 24, 1991/1994), Jordan (May 25, 1946), Paraguay (May 14-15, 1811), and Timor-Leste (May 20, 2002).
It's National Day in Azerbaijan (May 28, 1918) and Yemen (May 22, 1990); Unity Day in Cameroon (May 20, 1972); and the Defeat of the Derg Day in Ethiopia (May 28, 1991). Finally, Memorial Day in the United States (May 29).
May is also Good Posture Month—how are you doing on that one? I'm at "seriously needs improvement." Sigh.
Okay, let's begin. In the 1990s, charter schools entered American reality. I'm betting I'm not the only person confused by them, so I'm kicking off this issue with National Charter Schools Week—what they are, why they exist, and whether they are better than public schools or just another mechanism to transfer taxpayer dollars into the hands of a few. You be the judge.
NATIONAL CHARTER SCHOOLS WEEK
Date: May 1-5, 2023
Location: United States
Champion: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
National Charter Schools Week brings students, parents, teachers, and communities together to celebrate charter schools.
Charter schools appeared in the United States in 1991 when Minnesota passed legislation to allow tax-payer-funded schools to operate absent various regulations in exchange for increased accountability and elevated student achievement.
The idea behind charter schools originates in the privatization movement, which believes government-run institutions are inefficient. Ideally, charter schools give educators more flexibility and autonomy to innovate and experiment with different teaching methods. Independent organizations, including nonprofit and for-profit companies, are paid by tax dollars to administer charter schools.
Charter schools have been controversial since their inception, with critics arguing that they drain resources from government-run public schools and exacerbate inequalities by cherry-picking students and families. Supporters point to their success in improving student achievement and offering innovative approaches to education. Both sides have good arguments, each backed with successes and failures.
The US government states that 74-94% of students who started ninth grade graduated from high school in 2019-2020. Arizona had the lowest percentage; Iowa, Kentucky, and Texas had the highest, with over 21 states averaging over 90% graduation rates, regardless of whether students attended public, private, or charter schools. In poorer inner-city districts like Philadelphia, charter schools graduate more students within four years than public schools. In wealthy suburbs, there is little difference. Charter schools can accept or reject students. Government-run public schools cannot.
Overall, no definitive evidence points to charter schools as a better quality system than government-run public schools. Location, tax base, student body, local economic conditions, teaching staff, and other factors impact both types of schools and lead to good and bad results within each system. For parents navigating education for their children, judge quality on a school-by-school basis, not on its purpose (public education, private or charter for-profit/nonprofit). Good and bad examples can be found in each system.
This event began in 2010.
Dates: April 29 - May 5, 2023
Champion: National Holiday
Golden Week in Japan is a unique period from April 29 through the beginning of May, including several public holidays. Most Japanese companies will be closed, and people typically take vacations during this period.
On April 29, Japan celebrates Emperor Shōwa Day (Hirohito), who lived from April 29, 1901, to January 7, 1989.
May 3 is Constitution Memorial Day—Marking the anniversary of the institution of the Japanese Constitution on May 3, 1947.
May 4 is Greenery Day— a reason for people to commune with nature acknowledging Emperor Shōwa's love of plants and nature.
May 5 is Children's Day— the fifth day of the fifth month saw the boy's festival of Tango no Sekku. Today it celebrates all children. Throughout the country, you'll see carp-shaped streamers symbolizing strength and success. In addition to Japan, Children's Day has been a national holiday in South Korea since 1975.
The week's length officially depends on how the key dates fall within the standard week. Golden Week can end on May 3, 4, 5, or 6, depending upon the year.
SIXTY-FIVE ROSES MONTH
Date: May 1-31, 2023
Location: Australia, United States
Champion: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Australia
Each May, Australia observes 65 Roses Month (In the United States, it is simply Cystic Fibrosis Month), focusing on Cystic Fibrosis (CF) to highlight the growing need for awareness about the disease. The last Friday is 65 Roses Day in Australia. Throughout May, volunteers and people with CF and their families unite to help shine a spotlight on what CF is and the progress made toward a cure.
Children with cystic fibrosis call the disease "65 roses" because it is easier to pronounce (like when a child says "butter footed" instead of "barefooted"). The name stuck and is now the official terminology for CF in Australia.
Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States and 70,000 worldwide. A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs, leading to life-threatening lung infections, obstructing the pancreas, and stopping natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.
In the 1950s, few children with CF lived to attend elementary school. Advances in research and medical treatments have further enhanced and extended life for children and adults with CF. Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s, and beyond.
CORONATION OF HRH KING CHARLES III
Date: May 6, 2023
Location: London, United Kingdom
Champion: Government of the United Kingdom
On May 6 this year, the world will watch the Coronation of their royal highnesses, King Charles III and Queen Camila I. The following Monday (May 8) will be a Coronation Bank Holiday within most of the British Commonwealth in honor of the occasion.
Given the admiration the British royal family garners, global viewership for this near once-in-a-lifetime event will be quite high.
I remember watching His Highness wed Princess Diana live. I expect this to be even more majestic, and frankly, I've enjoyed listening to my British friends gush with excitement as each new detail is released. Seriously, they're downright giddy—and Brits don't do giddy!
Below is the official announcement from the Buckingham Palace press office.
"Buckingham Palace is pleased to announce that the Coronation of His Majesty The King will take place on Saturday, 6th May 2023.
The Coronation Ceremony will occur at Westminster Abbey, London, overseen by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Ceremony will see His Majesty King Charles III of England crowned alongside The Queen Consort.
The Coronation will reflect the monarch's role in looking forward while celebrating traditions and pageantry."
On a sweet note, the VIP invitations by artist Andrew Jamieson pay tribute to the personal invitation his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, had made for him when he was four years old for her coronation. It was actually a fluke. The artist didn't know about the King's handmade invitation from 1953. It's just one of the many details making this an extraordinary day.
Dates: May 9-13, 2023
Location: Liverpool, United Kingdom
Champion: European Broadcasting Union
Created by Marcel Bezençon and modeled after the San Remo Music Festival (Italy), the Eurovision Song Contest premiered on May 24, 1956. ABBA is one of the super groups to come out of the competition. The most famous song from Eurovision is Domenico Mudugno's Volare.
Eurovision's objective is to test the limits of live broadcast television technology. The event is known for its innovative performances and widely diverse contestants. Each participating nation sends one group to the contest. The winner's nation will determine where the next year's event is held. This year's participants come from 37 nations.
In 2015, the Eurovision Song Contest was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Longest Running Annual TV Music Competition." This event takes place over three nights in five days.
In 2023 the competition takes place in the United Kingdom. Ukraine won the 2022 contest; however, the event had to be moved due to the ongoing war between it and Russia.
Date: May 1, 2023
Champion: Hindu Religious Observance
Mohini Ekadashi is a Hindu fast to free the soul from illusion. It is believed that whomsoever abstains from food and drink on this sacred day will collect future benefits and live happily in this life and the next (Hindus believe in reincarnation). Adherence to this day's customs is thought to release one from suffering and misery.
Lord Krishna states that "There is no place of pilgrimage, no sacrifice, and no charity that can bestow merit equal to even one sixteenth of the merit a faithful devotee of mine obtains by observing Mohini Ekadashi; and he who hears and studies the glories of Mohini Ekadashi achieves the merit of giving away one thousand cows in charity."
The Hindu word "Ekadashi" refers to the eleventh day of the waxing and waning lunar phases in the Hindu calendar, a sacred day for Hindu devotees observed as a day of fasting, prayer, and spiritual purification.
The word "Ekadashi" is derived from the Sanskrit language. "Eka" meaning "one," and "dashi" meaning "ten." " Put together, Ekadashi" means "the eleventh," referring to the eleventh day of each lunar phase.
There are 24 Ekadashi days in the Hindu lunar year, with each Ekadashi having its significance and associated rituals.
Date: May 13, 2023
Location: The Netherlands
Champion: National Holiday
Windmills are national historic sites in The Netherlands. There are over 1200 in the country, of which 300 are occasionally still used.
Windmills have existed for over 3,500 years, facilitating irrigation, industry, and food production. They also propelled early organs—the musical instrument, that is. The type romanticized today, attributed to The Netherlands, originated during Islam's golden age in the Middle East during the eighth and ninth centuries.
Windmills have come a long way over the centuries, but their iconography continues to be associated with The Netherlands and other European cultures. Windmill Day celebrates its past and looks forward to its future as a renewable energy source.
GURU AMAR DAS SAHIB DAY
Date: May 5 , 2023
Champion: Sikh Religious Anniversary
Guru Amar Das Sahib (May 5, 1479 - September 1, 1574) was the third Guru of the Sikhs and an influential spiritual leader in Sikhism. He was born in Basarke, a village near Amritsar in present-day Punjab, India. Guru Amar Das Sahib became the Guru in 1552, succeeding Guru Angad Dev Ji, the second Sikh Guru.
Guru Amar Das Sahib contributed significantly to developing Sikhism and its institutions. Some of his notable achievements include:
Anand Karaj—established the Sikh wedding ceremony, which formalized the institution of marriage within the Sikh faith. This ceremony emphasizes the importance of spiritual and social commitment between the couple and the community.
Langar System—Although the Langar system (community kitchen) began with Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first Sikh Guru, Guru Amar Das Sahib, expanded and institutionalized it. He made it mandatory for all visitors, regardless of social status, caste, or religion, to partake in the Langar meal before meeting him. This practice promoted social equality, unity, and the spirit of selfless service.
Organization of Sikh Community—organized the Sikh community into 22 dioceses called Manjis, each led by spiritually and socially committed individuals. This system helped in spreading the teachings of Sikhism, managing community affairs, and ensuring the proper functioning of local congregations.
Compositions and Hymns—composed many hymns in the Guru Granth Sahib, the central religious scripture of Sikhism. His compositions emphasized the importance of meditation, devotion to God, and social responsibility.
Caste-based Practices Eliminated—Sahib actively discouraged caste-based discrimination and promoted social equality among his followers. He opposed the practice of Sati (a widow immolating herself on her husband's funeral pyre) and encouraged widows to remarry.
Guru Amar Das Sahib's teachings continue to inspire Sikhs worldwide. His focus on social equality, spiritual devotion, and community service are essential to the Sikh faith and values.
CINCO DE MAYO
Date: May 5, 2023
Location: United States and Mexico
Champion: Historical Anniversary
A lot of Americans think Cinco de Mayo is Mexico's Independence Day.
It's not. Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for "May Fifth," marks the anniversary of the Mexican army's entrenchment and ultimate victory in Puebla against the French army on May 5, 1862, during the Franco-Mexican War. This conflict ran concurrent with the American Civil War (1860-1864) and lasted from 1861-1867.
The French were ultimately defeated.
Americans use Cinco de Mayo as a day to celebrate Mexican culture, specifically the music, food, and drinks. Ironically, it's not a big deal in Mexico, but it might as well be Latin Saint Patrick's Day in the United States. It's huge.
Like many events, Canada and other nations globally have begun hosting Cinco de Mayo celebrations in their countries as a tribute to one of the world's favorite food categories, Latino culture, and the now iconic beverage of tequila.
INTERNATIONAL FIREFIGHTER DAY
Date: May 4, 2023
Champion: International Firefighters' Day
International Firefighters' Day (IFFD) is when the world recognizes and honors firefighters' sacrifices to ensure their communities and environment are as safe as possible. Support is communicated by wearing and displaying blue and red ribbons pinned together or participating in a memorial or recognition event.
Firefighting became an occupation at the time of Jesus in ancient Rome under Augustus Cesar. Many communities through the ages have supported volunteer fire departments in the absence of full-time departments. George Washington, the United States' first President, was a volunteer firefighter.
May fourth was chosen as the day to honor firefighters, as it is the Feast of Saint Florian. Saint Florian is the patron saint of firefighters.
MAY MAJOR SPORTING EVENTS
May sporting events run the gamut. The NBA and NHL are heading toward championships in June, and the Triple Crown competition starts with the Kentucky Derby. Here are the highlights.
Europa League Final (Football): May 31—Hungary
French Open (Tennis): May 28-June 11—France
Giro D'Italia (Cycling): May 6-28—Italy
Grand Prix of Monaco (Auto Racing): May 28—Monaco
IBA Men's World Championships (Boxing): May 1-14—Uzbekistan
IIHF World Championship (Ice Hockey): May 12-21—Russia, Finland & Latvia
Indianapolis 500 (Auto Racing): May 28—United States
Italian Grand Prix (Auto Racing): May 21—Italy
Kentucky Derby (Horse Racing): May 6—United States
Miami Grand Prix (Auto Racing): May 7—United States
PGA Championship (Golf): May 18-21—United States
Preakness Stakes (Horse Racing): May 20—United States
Senior PGA Championship (Golf): May 24-28—United States
Southeast Asian Games (Multi-sport): May 5-16—Cambodia
USO Warrior Week (Multi-sport): May 30 - June 5—United States
World Championship (Table Tennis): May 22-28—South Africa
MOUNT SAINT HELEN'S ERUPTION
Date: May 18 , 2023
Location: Southwestern Washington State, United States
Champion: Historical Anniversary
On May 18, 1980, Mount Saint Helens, a volcano in the Cascade Mountain range of the northwestern region of the United States, erupted, unleashing 24 megatons of thermal energy, removing the north side of the mountain and shrinking its height by about 1,300 feet (400 m). In its aftermath, it left a crater measuring one by two miles (1.6 X 3.2 km).
The blast cloud enveloped the 17 miles north of the volcano. A landslide traveled about 14 miles west down to the north fork of the Toutle River, where debris eventually wiped out the bridge on Interstate 5, the main north-south highway between Mexico and Canada in the United States.
Prevailing winds blew 520 million tons of ash east across the United States and caused complete darkness in Spokane, Washington, 250 miles from the volcano. Fifty-seven people died due to the eruption, in addition to over 7000 large game animals and around 12 million salmon.
The plinian eruption was in the same category as the infamous Mount Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD and ranked five on the Volcanic Explosivity Index. That index measures volcanos on a scale of 1-7. Seven would match the volcanic eruption 600,000 years ago that created the Yellowstone Caldera when over 100 cubed kilometers of earth were extracted by its force. By contrast, Mount Saint Helens blew out 2.79 cubed kilometers.
Experiencing the eruption
My family moved to Portland, Oregon, from Silicon Valley in January 1980. Shortly thereafter, rumblings began registering on the mountain in February and March. We traded earthquakes for volcanos, it seemed.
On May 18, a sunny Sunday, the mountain completely exploded. I don't recall hearing it or seeing anything from our yard in the valley, but you could see the cloud from Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon.
That first significant explosion blew east rather than west where we lived. In the weeks following, one could follow the ash cloud spread in a large funnel shape from its origin, over the Rockies and into the Dakotas. The cloud was so large and dense it was visible from outer space.
I remember my father loading us into Rosey the red FIAT and taking us to the top of Skyline Drive, which runs atop the hills separating Tualatin Valley from the city of Portland and the Willamette River. The plume of the explosion was massive and seemed to go on and on, as high as the eye could see. The mountain seemed to cough up billow after billow of gas and hot ash. We'd never seen anything like it and would later discover that the blast removed the mountaintop.
Over the next several months, the mountain continued to erupt, with the wind not always in our favor. One particular Saturday, my parents held a garage sale. When we walked outside, it looked like it was snowing. It wasn't. It was ash, falling from the sky and covering the ground in several inches of grey, flaky dusk.
That dust got into everything, turning into a thick paste when it rained. We had to walk around for days with monkey masks (my word at the time for the masks so standard now after COVID-19), which as a young teen, I detested. But the air was too thick to breathe. One of the aspects I remember fondly was when my father allowed me to help him take apart Rosey's engine and clean it. Every part of the car was caked in ash dust. Thank heaven it was a basic FIAT engine that wasn't as complicated as today. She had a manual choke, manual clutch, and no radio. It was a great learning experience and a tremendous father-daughter project. Little did I know that car would be mine in a few years.
For those of us who witnessed Mount Saint Helens and her eruption, it is something we'll never forget. For us, far away, it was curiosity. For those close, 57 people died, most from inhaling scalding ash.
Round about the 25th anniversary, I found myself in Oregon again. Now in my thirties, I drove my car up to the mountain, which had reopened. The forest was beginning to come back. Animals had returned, and for a moment, it was nearly impossible to believe the event had ever happened. Then I glanced skyward toward the crater where a rounded dome once stood, and the reality returned.
Oh yes, now, I remember. I remember it well.
Thank you again for the gift of your time! The next issue will focus on events in June 2023, and it does look like the beta version of LEEP Calendar application will launch this fall (finally). It is going to make your life so much easier! Please like, share, and if you're not a subscriber, please join us! Enjoy May!