By Roger Chambers
Holidays and Observances in May
May 1–May Day; Law Day; International Labor Day; Beltane
May 5–Cinco de Mayo
May 8–Mother’s Day; Truman Day (Missouri)
May 21–Armed Forces Day
May 22–National Maritime Day; Rogation Sunday
May 23–Victoria Day (Canada)
May 26–Ascension Day
May 30–Memorial Day
May begins with May Day. It is also Law Day in the United States, while much of the world celebrates it as International Labor Day, sometimes known as Solidarity Day. As a folk holiday based on Beltane, the Celtic spring cross quarter day halfway between the vernal equinox of March 20 and summer solstice of June 21 traditionally included dancing around a Maypole decorated with garlands of flowers. These traditions are gradually being revived in the United States, though far from universally celebrated.
Mother’s Day is a major holiday for a special dinner for Mom, at home or in a restaurant and gifts that often include flowers and candy. A card is nearly mandatory if one’s mother lives far away. In late and declining Covid era, restauranteurs will be happy with larger dinner crowds than they have had since 2019.
Frost is relatively rare after the first week of May. The record low temperature of 23°F was on May 4, 1978, while an average low is 44°F. Days are generally in the high 60s to 70s°F with a record high temperature of 92°F on May 18, 1972. The sun sets later every day with usually warm evenings. Overall, most of May is generally pleasant, though the end of the month may be hot in the 80s° as summer truly begins.
A month of flowers, May is also the month for planting the garden. There is a transition in cultivated flowers, with a few daffodils early on, but most tulips bloom, followed by lilacs and iris, and finally peonies late in the month. While it used to be the unwritten rule not to plant tomatoes and frost sensitive vegetables prior to Memorial Day, our last frost now usually occurs one to two weeks earlier than even a decade ago. It is likely safe to plant from about mid-May.
The month ends with the most important holiday of Memorial Day. Many celebrate the three-day weekend with a camping trip or other brief getaway. Many area attractions in Old Forge, Lake George, Cooperstown and Sylvan Beach open their various attractions for the unofficial beginning of the summer season. Most state parks also open on that weekend. There are large holiday parades in towns and villages large and small across the region.
Welcome to pleasant weather after our late April snowstorm. Get outside and enjoy the nicer weather of late spring and early summer.
Moon Phases for May
May 8–(First Quarter); Rises 11:41 A.M. Northeast Sets 2:22 A.M. Northwest
May 16–(Full Flower Moon); Rises 9:23 P.M. Southeast; Sets 5:48 A.M. Southwest
May 22–(Last Quarter); Rises 2:09 A.M. Southeast; Sets 12:13 P.M. Southwest
May 30–(New Moon); Rises 5:20 A.M. Northeast; Sets 9:06 P.M. Southwest
Rising and Setting of Sun, Moon and Visible Planets on May 21, 2022
Sunrise–5:31 A.M.; Sunset, 8:23 P.M.
Waning Gibbous Moonrise–1:34 A.M. Southeast; Moonset 10:57 A.M. Southwest
Venus–Rises 4:00 A.M. East
Mars–Rises 3:05 A.M. East
Jupiter–Rises 3:12 A.M. East
Saturn–Rises 1:48 A.M. East
During May, the planets are visible only after midnight into the pre-dawn hours in the Eastern sky. From left to right, Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn line up nicely in the east from May 3rd to May 20th. The Moon is just below Saturn on the 22nd, while the waning Crescent Moon is below Jupiter and Mars on the 25th, and below Venus on the 27th. From the 27th to the 30th, Mars and Jupiter are close together.
The Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower, remnants of Halley’s Comet, occurs this month, best seen in early pre-dawn hours of May 5th to the southeast. One could expect ten to twenty meteors per hour with clear skies, but relatively close to the horizon. Double that number of meteors are seen in South America, higher on the horizon.
On May 15-16 is a total lunar eclipse. The Full Flower Moon enters the penumbra at 9:31 P.M. EDT on May 15th, leaving the penumbra at 2:52 A.M. on the 16th. If not cloudy, this will be completely visible in the Mohawk Valley.