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In the Footsteps
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Tomorow is the first day of the merry, merry month of May. The plowing and sowing was over and the seed leaves, then the sprouts, were growing up toward the sun. About this time a farmer, like my great-grandfather, always gave a sigh of relief: the seed was fertile, successful germination the hope for a harvest.

In early times, Beltane was observed May first. Actually, the full moon is Wednesday, I think, but close enough. We think of the solstice as the first day of summer, but this has not always been the case. The ancient Celts called the solstice Midsummer and considered May 1 (more specifically, the full moon) as the first day of the new season. Their name for this special day was Beltane, and it was one of four "cross quarter days" halfway between the solstices and equinoxes. Beltane traditionally was celebrated with the lighting of bonfires, and like other holidays, it was an excuse to stay out late and party. It was also a lucky night for love and mating.

May First (May Day) was also taken by the labor movement as its day to remind workers of their solidarity with each other. "Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains" was the war cry of the working class in its struggle with bosses and owners for decent working conditions and adequate pay. Gradually American workers were steered by unions to celebrate Labor Day instead, eschewing the Socialist affiliation.

This year's May first will see the second year of demonstrations throughout downtown Los Angeles by immigrants rights marchers, forcing the closure of numerous streets in the heart of the city. The marchers' ranks will probably be swelled by hundreds of high school students who will turn out to show their solidarity with undocumented workers. This event is hardly surprising in a county with an Hispanic population greater than 50% of the total, and a school district with nearly 75% of its students of Hispanic descent. Last year's marches were estimated at 250,000 in the morning, swelling to 400,000 in the afternoon.

One memory stands out for me from last year: In the morning marchers were waving Mexican flags. By the afternoon, the flags being waved were mostly American. This year's demonstration will be interesting to watch.

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