A look at some interesting moments in history that happened in the month May.
Most sources say that May was named after ‘Maia’-a Greek Goddess, who appears in both Greek & Roman myths as the goddess of Spring. Some sources say that May is shortened form of the word ‘Majores’- a Latin word for older men as it was held to be sacred to older men. May was once the third month. When Julius Caesar moved January & February from the end of the year to beginning, May became the fifth month.
May 1st, known as Labour Day and often referred to as May Day. The date was chosen in 1889 for political reasons by the Marxist International Socialist Congress. They adopted a resolution in support of working-class demands for the eighth-hour day.
May 4th, Alice Liddell born on this day in 1852. The inspiration for “Alice in Wonderland”. Lewis Carroll improvised the story of Alice as an entertainment for Alice Liddell and her sisters, during a trip in a rowing boat between Oxford and Godstow. At her urging, he wrote the story down, and the rest is history as they say. The book has never been out of print and has been translated into 174 languages. Its legacy covers adaptations for screen, radio, art, ballet, opera, musicals, theme parks, board and video games.
May 4th, After an unsuccessful French attempt on construction of Panama Canal, United States took over the project on this day in 1904 after various negotiations. Ten years later, on August 15th 1914, the canal was officially opened.
The American Red Cross was established in May 1881. Clara Barton was instrumental in setting it up and became the first President. She encountered the Red Cross movement while visiting Europe and began campaigning for an American version on her return to the USA. She acted as President for 23 years, resigning in 1904 at the age of 83.
The official opening of Empire State Building in May 1931. This 102 floors Art Deco skyscraper stood as the world’s tallest building until the construction of the World Trade Center in 1970.
On May 13th, 1787, Captain Arthur Philip left Portsmouth, England for Australia with eleven ships. All the 800 plus passengers were convicts. The voyage was intended to establish a penal colony and it has become known as the ‘First Fleet’. The journey took around 250 days before landing in Botany Bay. Shortly after landing Arthur Philip was named Governor of New South Wales and he helped to transform this area from a prison camp to a functioning settlement.
On May 13th, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot 4 times St Peter’s Square. He famously forgave the man who tried to assassinate him. The assassin, Turkish born Mehmet Ali Agca after serving his sentence publicly arrived at the Vatican In 2014, to lay white roses on the recently canonized John Paul II’s tomb and said that he wanted to meet Pope Francis, a request that was denied.
On May 13th, 1995, Alison Hargreaves became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest alone without supplementary oxygen or help from Sherpas. In addition, she was also the first person to climb the six great north faces of the Alps alone in a single climbing session.
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