Spontoon Island
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*  Update - Ken Fletcher art & MMMarmel  *
*  colored version: 1 May 2017  *
**  Update - "The Big Octopus" 1 June 2017  **

  May Day celebrations!
Holiday greetings from the
Spontoon Islands!

"Big Octopus" - a May Day float at one of the parade on Spontoon Island in 1937. - by Ken Fletcher
"The Big Octopus" (parade float) - by Ken Fletcher - Larger file here (1 MByte)

Spontoon Island has a MayDay Spring festival and blow-out for the workers
getting ready for the tourist season. The hotels, resorts, restaurants, & seasonal
shops have to be prepared by the first week in May, when the cruise ships arrive.
Cleaning and last minute repairs have to be done. Furniture & furnishings
are brought out of storage. Supplies are distributed from the co-op warehouses.
New workers from the more distant Spontoon Archipelago islands are arriving
at their seasonal 'long-houses' for orientation and training. So May Day is a
welcoming party in the Spontoon Atoll, and also the Spontoonie 'Labor Day'.

((Color by MMMarmel) May Day 1937 Parade: Big Fish - black & white line art by Ken Fletcher
May Day Parade 1937: The Big Fish (Salmon Float) Color version by MMMarmel.
*  Ken Fletcher, inked lines. Larger file here (4.8 MBytes)  *

May Day - Parade: Big fish - by Ken Fletcher
May Day Parade: 1937 - The Big Fish (Salmon Floats) - by Ken Fletcher  *
May Day webpage here. Larger file here (1 MByte)
There are several parades during May Day - Some parade groups travel from
island-to-island around the Spontoon Lagoon. This view may be on South Island.

A souvenir of the recent MayDay holiday on Spontoon Island:
 An enlarged label from a pack of firecrackers.
"Plutocrat Crackers!" firecracker label circa 1931 - art & text by Ken Fletcher (medium size)
"Plutocrat Crackers!" firecracker pack label, circa 1931
by Ken Fletcher
Smaller file here - (151 KBytes)
Firecrackers from a local Spontoon co-op factory.
MayDay is one of the more political of the Spontoon Island
holidays. The causes of the world-wide Great Depression
were much discussed in the villages' democracy sub-committees.
This label may also display the Spontoonie sense of irony.
(Uploaded 16 June 2016)

Dancer/Drummer:Drummer/Dancer - by Jerry Collins
Dancer/Drummer:Drummer/Dancer - by Jerry Collins
Larger file here (997 KBytes)
Uploaded 28 January 2015
Ice Bucket to the Picnic - by Jerry Collins
Ice Bucket to the Picnic - by Jerry Collins
(Larger file here - 484 KBytes)

(Upload 1 May 2015)

"Miz Kiki in her May Day colors swimsuit" - art & design by Chaotikat
"Miz Kiki in her May Day colors (black & red) swimsuit."
Art & design by Chaotikat - http://www.furaffinity.net/user/chaotikat/

Hula Union May Day poster 1937
Hula Union poster 1937 by Ken Fletcher

May Day Stories

"The Dance" by Walter Reimer
The origin of an excellent May day dance, from 1918
to May Day, 1935  >Adult Situations<

"Huntress Hula" by Walter Reimer
A Legend from Spontoon Island telling of
Vairea-daughter-Teva and the origin of May Day celebrations

"Banner of Flame" by Walter Reimer
May Day, 1929, for a small town on Rain Island

"Red Wednesday" by Walter Reimer

May Day, 1935, with the Ni family on Krumark Island

"May Day" by E. O. Costello

May Day, 1937: Miss Baumgartner & Inspector Stagg
  pay a visit to Dr. Meffit's walled garden

"Break Away" Part 1 by M. Mitchell Marmel
Rosie Baumgartner shares some May Days from 1937, 1938, & 1930
Illustrated with a Mature Artistic study by Seth Triggs (nudity).

"It Happens Every May Day" by E. O. Costello
Kara Karoksdottir tells you of a typical May Day celebration with her family.

"The Meaning of MayDay" by John Urie
May Day 1938 (with an illumination by Taral Wayne)

May Day Art Archive

May Day Greetings (thumbnail) - by Stuart McCarthy
May Day greetings - by Stuart McCarthy
(larger image here - 1.8 MBytes)

May Day parade - by Mauricio Tavares, color by Mitch Marmel
May Day parade - by Mauricio Tavares;
color by M. Mitchell Marmel  -  Larger color size version

Union Maid beer poster 1937 by Ken Fletcher
Union Maid beer poster 1937 by Ken Fletcher

Mechanics Hula by Ken Fletcher
Mechanic's Hula by Ken Fletcher

"Red Banner" Hula by Ken Fletcher
Mature image "Red Banner" Hula by Ken Fletcher
Anarcho-syndicalist frisky hulahula to celebrate the coming of Summer

Weasels celebrate by Brainsister
Weasels celebrate  (by Brainsister)

"May 1, 1937" by M. Estrugo
May 1, 1937 - Characters & art by M. Estrugo  *

May Day sarong - not just a banner anymore; Art by Ken Fletcher
May Day Banner (by Ken Fletcher)

Spontoonie May Day Celebrations

May Day on the Spontoon Atoll is a citizen's festival, with major celebrations on 1 May and the Saturday (or Sunday) following. Some group activities (such as visiting tours or camping trips) may stretch into the week following 1 May.

What you would see during May Day on the Spontoon Islands:

These are holidays about and for workers. You would see festive clothes, even when people are at work. Wearing leis and flowers are common. Off work, you might see a few more elaborate holiday costumes, such as dance group costumes. For May Day, people might wear their usual festive clothes, but with colored accessories, most often in red or black.

"May Day is red lei day": Workers may wear flowers or leis on the job. You will see people wearing large buttons and badges for their union, syndicate or village committee. Sometimes they will wear badges on red sashes. Red armbands can be a symbol of the celebration. "Workmen's clothes" like overalls and caps may be worn, even if not typical for the job. Otherwise, festive tropical wear is common: bright tropical prints for shirts and skirts and sarongs. Dressing more festive than usual on the job is usually expected or accepted for the May Day festivals.

Colors: Red leis, flowers, armbands and red shirts are common, or red & white prints. Spontoonies consider red to be the "worker's solidarity" color when worn on May Day. After 1885, May Day became a holiday identified with low-income workers and union organization. Red is considered a symbol of working-class/ labor class. (The Spontoonies are aware of the association of red with the various Socialist Parties and the Communist Party [and the 1930s Russian Communist Party], but the Spontoonie tradition come from the late 1880s.)
Black color is an anarchist symbol. Democratic Anarchy has a positive context for Spontoonies. Unfortunately, there aren't many black flowers! You will, however, see May Day Spontoonies wearing black caps, black armbands, black cloth (or paper) leis, cockades, or corsages. Wearing all-black clothing would be considered extreme, although a dancer might get intense interest from the audience in how they made a black hula-skirt.

Black and red are the colors of the Rain Coast flags. As a sign of appreciation and solidarity with the sailors of the Rain Island Naval Syndicate (or just because it looks cool) you may see combinations of red and black decorations.

Black and red are not "official" Spontoon Island colors: you just may see them used more often for decoration on May Day. Many people will be joining the celebrations without using either color for their clothes, or with the usual red flower leis. The black and red are optional, and it is understood that individuals may have their own color schemes. 

Special Events

Booth villages:
Meeting Island besides being the customary gathering place for citizen votes, and location of many Althing adminstration buildings, is considered a family park. There are several locations on Meeting Island where extended families or villages have "booths" (foundations for camping tents), or sometimes seasonal longhouses. The week of May Day is one of the traditional times for camping with your family at (or near) your family booth, and visiting other booths. These area become small festive villages for a week.

Flotilla: A parade of decorated boats. Casino Island has the most notable flotilla, one that does a loop on the North and West sides of the island, with afterwards, a floating picnic into the afternoon and evening. Some of the working boats will join this parade, as will some of the co-operative recreation boats, and private small craft. There is considerable participation from the Euro community's private and co-op boats and visiting yachts. During May Day many of these flotilla boats (especially the larger working boats) will give groups of people rides between the islands for the different scheduled events. The water taxis work during the flotilla and participate: The taxis are decorated (including extra lights at night) and also take people around to visit the boats. Some taxi trips are shared gifts, some trips are for pay.

Parades: the best-known parade is on Casino Island, the Saturday (or Sunday) morning after May Day, between the Ferry Square plaza and the Casino. A feature of this parade is a traditional spraying of marchers, floats, and viewers with (small) streams of water. Custom says that this was due to a remark made by a well-known Euro Casino Island politician back in 1919 about the territorial reasons behind "Anarchists flaunting their May Day parade around Casino Island from lamp-post to lamp-post!". In 1920, at the start of the parade, the squirt bottles appeared on both sides and (fortunately) after 10 seconds of shock everyone decided to have a good time. Displaying a squirt bottle or something similar is the sign that you are willing to give and take a stream of symbolic water, so only parts of the parade and spectators get soggy. As you might imagine, this parade is more likely to have silly sections.

There are other parades: One on Moon Island (a much more dignified military syndicate parade & review), and a parade along the western seashore road of Eastern Island (informal, but not usually silly). Aided by the influences of the street-performers union, there are often informal short parades. As an example, a group leaving a ferryboat might make their own music and march to the area of a scheduled event.

Performing artists do use May Day to show off material prepared for the tourist season.  There are free music and dance performances-- May Day is usually the trial run for the tourist performance areas and theater stages.

Hangar dances: Eastern Island has dance events in some of the hangers near the main airstrip. Most are scheduled open dances with posted bands with specific styles of music. There are sometimes dance performances. "Europe folk dances" can be code for ballroom dancing and swing/jazz dance, as well as the folk dances that you might expect. 

Impromptu dances: The street performers seem to have spread marching songs (with dances) and even some call-and-response group routines within parts of the Spontoonie community. These group performances show up at community events such as May Day. The Hula Dancer's Union has promoted several styles of holiday hula, and picnics will often have large groups doing hula dances.

Touring players: Wandering groups do street performances of  Spontoonie custom skits and short musicals. Some of the material may be about the working-class theme where it touches on colonial geopolitics.  Some of these performers will do tours of the more distant villages during the week following May Day. These tours are quietly subsidized by the Althing.

The anarchist influence does allow for events to be organized "from the bottom-up".  There are more group events that have members cross-over the usual social or geographic boundaries, and meet new people. It is understood that events can be organized at short notice, with some flexibility needed for time and location.. The improvisational street-performance artists consider May Day one of their major performance times, and many classic street routines have had their start on May Days. Some anarchist-wing events show their sense of humor: The Official Anarchist Drum Jam (about 5 minutes long) and the Anarchist Association Choir Performance (about 6 minutes long) have been crowd favorites for participation since the late 1920s.

Visual Arts: Most visible are the leis worn by many May Day participants. There are displays by artists specializing in lei assembly. The parades show off sculptured  masks and large character puppets, and the parades also include decorated floats constructed on trucks and wagons. Many of the building decorations (sculpture, painted patterns & murals) are finished for May Day. Some of this decorative work is "in process" through the first week in May.

Each of the Spontoon lagoon islands may have small co-op art shows for jewelry, painting and drawing, and often there will be street displays or shows in shops.

Tourists: May Day is just before the usual start of the tourist season and the arrival of the cruise ships. By the  mid-1930s a small number of visitors have heard of the May Day celebrations, and come before the tourist season to watch. Most of these visitors are higher-income travellers who can afford to travel by air.

Ken Fletcher
23 April 2007
27 April 2008
This text material is released to Public Domain.

  Background essays:
May Day History and Setting
Tourist Season
Preparing for Tourist Season
"Hiring Fair" for tourist season workers

Art Pages
Hotels & Resorts
Workers of the Spontoon Islands by Tom Foster
(other workers in the Characters, Tourists, and Hotel sections of the Art page)

 "Waiting and watching" by Taral Wayne
"Waiting and watching" by Taral Wayne
(A worker waiting for the May Day parade?)
"Fireworks" by William Earl Haskell
"Fireworks" by William Earl Haskell (Larger size is here - opens to 1.3 Mbytes)