The Federal City of Bonn is a city on the banks of the Rhine in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, with a population of over 300,000. About 24 km south-southeast of Cologne, Bonn is in the southernmost part of the Rhine-Ruhr region, Germany's largest metropolitan area, with over 11 million inhabitants, it is famously known as the birthplace of Ludwig van Beethoven in 1770. Beethoven spent his childhood and teenage years in Bonn; because of a political compromise following German reunification, the German federal government maintains a substantial presence in Bonn, the city is considered a second, capital of the country. Bonn is the secondary seat of the President, the Chancellor, the Bundesrat and the primary seat of six federal government ministries and twenty federal authorities; the unique title of Federal City reflects its important political status within Germany. As the city of Weimar in eastern Germany has given its name to Germany's interwar period democracy, the Weimar Republic, so too has Bonn given its name to the historical name of the Bonn Republic for the Cold War era Federal Republic of Germany.
Founded in the 1st century BC as a Roman settlement, Bonn is one of Germany's oldest cities. From 1597 to 1794, Bonn was the capital of the Electorate of Cologne, residence of the Archbishops and Prince-electors of Cologne. From 1949 to 1990, Bonn was the capital of West Germany, Germany's present constitution, the Basic Law, was declared in the city in 1949. Berlin was re-affirmed by the Bundestag in Bonn as the capital of Germany, though due to the country's division a seat of government was maintained there by the German Democratic Republic, only in the eastern half. From 1990 to 1999, Bonn served as the seat of government – but no longer capital – of reunited Germany; the headquarters of Deutsche Post DHL and Deutsche Telekom, both DAX-listed corporations, are in Bonn. The city is home to the University of Bonn and a total of 20 United Nations institutions, including headquarters for Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention Climate Change, the Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the UN Volunteers programme.
Situated in the southernmost part of the Rhine-Ruhr region, Germany's largest metropolitan area with over 11 million inhabitants, Bonn lies within the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, close to the border with Rhineland-Palatinate. Spanning an area of more 141.2 km2 on both sides of the river Rhine three quarters of the city lie on the river's left bank. To the south and to the west, Bonn is bordering the Eifel region which encompasses the Rhineland Nature Park. To the north, Bonn borders the Cologne Lowland. Natural borders are constituted by the river Sieg to the north-east and by the Siebengebirge to the east; the largest extension of the city in north-south dimensions is 15 km and 12.5 km in west-east dimensions. The city borders have a total length of 61 km; the geographical centre of Bonn is the Bundeskanzlerplatz in Bonn-Gronau. The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia is divided into five governmental districts, Bonn is part of the governmental district of Cologne. Within this governmental district, the city of Bonn is an urban district in its own right.
The urban district of Bonn is again divided into four administrative municipal districts. These are Bonn-Bad Godesberg, Bonn-Beuel and Bonn-Hardtberg. In 1969, the independent towns of Bad Godesberg and Beuel as well as several villages were incorporated into Bonn, resulting in a city more than twice as large as before. Bonn has an oceanic climate. In the south of the Cologne lowland in the Rhine valley, Bonn is in one of Germany's warmest regions; the history of the city dates back to Roman times. In about 12 BC, the Roman army appears to have stationed a small unit in what is presently the historical centre of the city. Earlier, the army had resettled members of a Germanic tribal group allied with Rome, the Ubii, in Bonn; the Latin name for that settlement, "Bonna", may stem from the original population of this and many other settlements in the area, the Eburoni. The Eburoni were members of a large tribal coalition wiped out during the final phase of Caesar's War in Gaul. After several decades, the army gave up the small camp linked to the Ubii-settlement.
During the 1st century AD, the army chose a site to the north of the emerging town in what is now the section of Bonn-Castell to build a large military installation dubbed Castra Bonnensis, i.e. "Fort Bonn". Built from wood, the fort was rebuilt in stone. With additions and new construction, the fort remained in use by the army into the waning days of the Western Roman Empire the mid-5th century; the structures themselves remained standing well into the Middle Ages, when they were called the Bonnburg. They were used by Frankish kings. Much of the building materials seem to have been re-used in the construction of Bonn's 13th-century city wall; the Sterntor in the city center is a reconstruction using the last remnants of the medieval city wall. To date, Bonn's Roman fort remains the largest fort of its type known from the ancient world, i.e. a fort built to accommodate a full-strength Imperial Legion and its auxiliaries. The fort covered an area of 250,000 square metres. Between its walls it contained a dense grid of streets and a multitude of buildings, ranging from spacious headquarters and large officers' quarters to barracks, stables and a military jail.
Kristallnacht or Reichskristallnacht referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, Reichspogromnacht or Pogromnacht, Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom against Jews throughout Nazi Germany on 9–10 November 1938, carried out by SA paramilitary forces and civilians. The German authorities looked on without intervening; the name Kristallnacht comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after the windows of Jewish-owned stores and synagogues were smashed. Estimates of the number of fatalities caused by the pogrom have varied. Early reports estimated. Modern analysis of German scholarly sources by historians such as Sir Richard Evans puts the number much higher; when deaths from post-arrest maltreatment and subsequent suicides are included, the death toll climbs into the hundreds. Additionally, 30,000 Jewish men were incarcerated in concentration camps. Jewish homes and schools were ransacked, as the attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers; the rioters destroyed 267 synagogues throughout Germany and the Sudentenland, over 7,000 Jewish businesses were either destroyed or damaged.
The British historian Martin Gilbert wrote that no event in the history of German Jews between 1933 and 1945 was so reported as it was happening, the accounts from the foreign journalists working in Germany sent shock waves around the world. The British newspaper The Times wrote at the time: "No foreign propagandist bent upon blackening Germany before the world could outdo the tale of burnings and beatings, of blackguardly assaults on defenseless and innocent people, which disgraced that country yesterday."The attacks were retaliation for the assassination of the Nazi German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan, a seventeen-year-old German-born Polish Jew living in Paris. Kristallnacht was followed by additional economic and political persecution of Jews, it is viewed by historians as part of Nazi Germany's broader racial policy, the beginning of the Final Solution and The Holocaust. In the 1920s, most German Jews were integrated into German society as German citizens, they served in the German army and navy and contributed to every field of German business and culture.
Conditions for the Jews began to change after the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933, the Enabling Act assumption of power by Hitler after the Reichstag fire of 27 February 1933. From its inception, Hitler's régime moved to introduce anti-Jewish policies. Nazi propaganda singled out the 500,000 Jews in Germany, who accounted for only 0.86% of the overall population, as an enemy within who were responsible for Germany's defeat in the First World War and for its subsequent economic disasters, such as the 1920s hyperinflation and Wall Street Crash Great Depression. Beginning in 1933, the German government enacted a series of anti-Jewish laws restricting the rights of German Jews to earn a living, to enjoy full citizenship and to gain education, including the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service of 7 April 1933, which forbade Jews to work in the civil service; the subsequent 1935 Nuremberg Laws stripped German Jews of their citizenship and forbade Jews to marry non-Jewish Germans.
These laws resulted in the exclusion of Jews from German political life. Many sought asylum abroad; the international Évian Conference on 6 July 1938 addressed the issue of Jewish and Gypsy immigration to other countries. By the time the conference took place, more than 250,000 Jews had fled Germany and Austria, annexed by Germany in March 1938; as the number of Jews and Gypsies wanting to leave increased, the restrictions against them grew, with many countries tightening their rules for admission. By 1938, Germany "had entered a new radical phase in anti-Semitic activity"; some historians believe that the Nazi government had been contemplating a planned outbreak of violence against the Jews and were waiting for an appropriate provocation. In a 1997 interview, the German historian Hans Mommsen claimed that a major motive for the pogrom was the desire of the Gauleiters of the NSDAP to seize Jewish property and businesses. Mommsen stated: The need for money by the party organization stemmed from the fact that Franz Xaver Schwarz, the party treasurer, kept the local and regional organizations of the party short of money.
In the fall of 1938, the increased pressure on Jewish property nourished the party's ambition since Hjalmar Schacht had been ousted as Reich minister for economics. This, was only one aspect of the origin of the November 1938 pogrom; the Polish government threatened to extradite all Jews who were Polish citizens but would stay in Germany, thus creating a burden of responsibility on the German side. The immediate reaction by the Gestapo was to push the Polish Jews—16,000 persons—over the borderline, but this measure failed due to the stubbornness of the Polish customs officers; the loss of prestige as a result of this abortive operation called for some sort of compensation. Thus, the overreaction to Herschel Grynszpan's attempt against t
Hamburg is the second-largest city in Germany with a population of over 1.8 million. One of Germany's 16 federal states, it is surrounded by Schleswig-Holstein to the north and Lower Saxony to the south; the city's metropolitan region is home to more than five million people. Hamburg lies on two of its tributaries, the River Alster and the River Bille; the official name reflects Hamburg's history as a member of the medieval Hanseatic League and a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire. Before the 1871 Unification of Germany, it was a sovereign city state, before 1919 formed a civic republic headed constitutionally by a class of hereditary grand burghers or Hanseaten. Beset by disasters such as the Great Fire of Hamburg, north Sea flood of 1962 and military conflicts including World War II bombing raids, the city has managed to recover and emerge wealthier after each catastrophe. Hamburg is Europe's third-largest port. Major regional broadcasting firm NDR, the printing and publishing firm Gruner + Jahr and the newspapers Der Spiegel and Die Zeit are based in the city.
Hamburg is the seat of Germany's oldest stock exchange and the world's oldest merchant bank, Berenberg Bank. Media, commercial and industrial firms with significant locations in the city include multinationals Airbus, Blohm + Voss, Aurubis and Unilever; the city hosts specialists in world economics and international law, including consular and diplomatic missions as the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the EU-LAC Foundation, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, multipartite international political conferences and summits such as Europe and China and the G20. Both the former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and Angela Merkel, German chancellor since 2005, come from Hamburg; the city is a major domestic tourist destination. It ranked 18th in the world for livability in 2016; the Speicherstadt and Kontorhausviertel were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 2015. Hamburg is a major European science and education hub, with several universities and institutions. Among its most notable cultural venues are the Laeiszhalle concert halls.
It paved the way for bands including The Beatles. Hamburg is known for several theatres and a variety of musical shows. St. Pauli's Reeperbahn is among the best-known European entertainment districts. Hamburg is at a sheltered natural harbour on the southern fanning-out of the Jutland Peninsula, between Continental Europe to the south and Scandinavia to the north, with the North Sea to the west and the Baltic Sea to the northeast, it is on the River Elbe at its confluence with the Bille. The city centre is around the Binnenalster and Außenalster, both formed by damming the River Alster to create lakes; the islands of Neuwerk, Scharhörn, Nigehörn, 100 kilometres away in the Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park, are part of the city of Hamburg. The neighborhoods of Neuenfelde, Cranz and Finkenwerder are part of the Altes Land region, the largest contiguous fruit-producing region in Central Europe. Neugraben-Fischbek has Hamburg's highest elevation, the Hasselbrack at 116.2 metres AMSL. Hamburg borders the states of Lower Saxony.
Hamburg has an oceanic climate, influenced by its proximity to the coast and marine air masses that originate over the Atlantic Ocean. The location north of Germany provides extremes greater than marine climates, but in the category due to the mastery of the western standards. Nearby wetlands enjoy a maritime temperate climate; the amount of snowfall has differed a lot during the past decades: while in the late 1970s and early 1980s, at times heavy snowfall occurred, the winters of recent years have been less cold, with snowfall only on a few days per year. The warmest months are June and August, with high temperatures of 20.1 to 22.5 °C. The coldest are December and February, with low temperatures of −0.3 to 1.0 °C. Claudius Ptolemy reported the first name for the vicinity as Treva; the name Hamburg comes from the first permanent building on the site, a castle which the Emperor Charlemagne ordered constructed in AD 808. It rose on rocky terrain in a marsh between the River Alster and the River Elbe as a defence against Slavic incursion, acquired the name Hammaburg, burg meaning castle or fort.
The origin of the Hamma term remains uncertain. In 834, Hamburg was designated as the seat of a bishopric; the first bishop, became known as the Apostle of the North. Two years Hamburg was united with Bremen as the Bishopric of Hamburg-Bremen. Hamburg occupied several times. In 845, 600 Viking ships sailed up the River Elbe and destroyed Hamburg, at that time a town of around 500 inhabitants. In 1030, King Mieszko II Lambert of Poland burned down the city. Valdemar II of Denmark raided and occupied Hamburg in 1201 and in 1214; the Black Death killed at least 60% of the population in 1350. Hamburg experienced several great fires in the medieval period. In 1189, by imperial charter, Frederick I "Barbarossa" granted Hamburg the status of a Free Imperial City and tax-free access up the Lower Elbe into the North Sea. In 1265, an forged letter was presented to or by the Rath of Hamburg; this charter, along with Hamburg's proximity to the main trade routes of the North Sea and Baltic Sea made it a
Friedrich Ebert was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the first President of Germany from 1919 until his death in office in 1925. Ebert was elected leader of the SPD on the death in 1913 of August Bebel. In 1914, shortly after he assumed leadership, the party became divided over Ebert's support of war loans to finance the German war effort in World War I. A moderate social democrat, Ebert was in favour of the Burgfrieden, a political policy that sought to suppress squabbles over domestic issues among political parties during wartime in order to concentrate all forces in society on the successful conclusion of the war effort, he could not prevent a split. Ebert was a pivotal figure in the German Revolution of 1918–19; when Germany became a republic at the end of World War I, he became its first chancellor. His policies at that time were aimed at restoring peace and order in Germany and containing the more extreme elements of the revolutionary left. In order to accomplish these goals, he allied himself with conservative and nationalistic political forces, in particular the leadership of the military under General Wilhelm Groener and the right wing Freikorps.
With their help, Ebert's government crushed a number of socialist and communist uprisings as well as those from the right, including the Kapp Putsch. This has made him a controversial historical figure. Ebert was born in Heidelberg, German Empire on 4 February 1871 as the seventh of nine children of the tailor Karl Ebert and his wife Katharina. Three of his siblings died at a young age. Although he wanted to attend university, this proved impossible due to the lack of funds of his family. Instead, he trained as a saddle-maker from 1885 to 1888. After he became a journeyman in 1889 he travelled, according to the German custom, from place to place in Germany, seeing the country and learning fresh details of his trade. In Mannheim, he was introduced by an uncle to the Social Democratic Party, joining it in 1889. Although Ebert studied the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, he was less interested in ideology than in practical and organisational issues that would improve the lot of the workers and there.
Ebert was on the "black list" of the police due to his political activities, so he kept changing his place of residence. Between 1889 and 1891 he lived in Kassel, Elberfeld-Barmen, Quakenbrück and Bremen, where he founded and chaired local chapters of the Sattlerverband. After settling in Bremen in 1891, Ebert made a living doing odd jobs. In 1893, he obtained an editorial post on the socialist Bremer Bürgerzeitung. In May 1894, he married Louise Rump, daughter of a manual labourer, employed as a housemaid and in labelling boxes and, active in union work, he became a pub owner that became a centre of socialist and union activity and was elected party chairman of the Bremen SPD. In 1900, Ebert was appointed a trade-union secretary and elected a member of the Bremer Bürgerschaft as representative of the Social Democratic Party. In 1904, Ebert presided over the national convention of the party in Bremen and became better known to a wider public, he became a leader of the "moderate" wing of the Social Democratic Party and in 1905 Secretary-General of the SPD, at which point he moved to Berlin.
At the time, he was the youngest member of the Parteivorstand. Meanwhile, Ebert had run for a Reichstag seat several times in constituencies where the SPD had no chance of winning: 1898 Vechta, 1903 and 1906 Stade. However, in 1912, he was elected to the Reichstag for the constituency of Elberfeld-Barmen; this was the election that made the SPD the strongest party in the Reichstag with 110 out of a total of 397 members, surpassing the Centre Party. On the death of August Bebel on 13 August 1913, Ebert was elected as joint party chairman at the convention in Jena on 20 September with 433 out of 473 votes, his co-chairman was Hugo Haase. When the July Crisis of 1914 erupted, Ebert was on vacation. After war was declared in early August, Ebert travelled to Zürich with party treasurer Otto Braun and the SPD's money to be in a position to build up a foreign organisation if the SPD should be outlawed in the German Empire, he returned on 6 August and led the SPD Reichstag members to vote unanimously in favour of war loans, accepting that the war was a necessary patriotic, defensive measure against the autocratic regime of the Tsar in Russia.
In January 1916, Haase resigned. Under the leadership of Ebert and other "moderates" such as Philipp Scheidemann, the SPD party participated in the Burgfrieden, an agreement among the political parties in the Reichstag to suppress domestic policy differences for the duration of the war in order to concentrate the energies of the country on bringing the conflict to a successful conclusion for Germany; this positioned the party in favour of the war with the aim of a compromise peace, a stance that led to a split in the SPD, with those radically opposed to the war leaving the SPD in early 1917 to form the USPD. Similar policy disputes caused Ebert to end his parliamentary alliance with several left-wing members of the Reichstag and start to work with the Centre Party and the Progress Party in 1916; those kicked out by Ebert called themselves "Spartacists". Beginning in 1916, Ebert shared the leadership of his Reichstag delegates with Scheidemann. Although he opposed a policy of territorial gains secured through m
Schwerin is the capital and second-largest city of the northeastern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It has a population of about 100,000. Schwerin was first mentioned in 1018 as Wendenburg and was granted city rights in 1160 by Henry the Lion, thus it is the oldest city of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, it is globally known for its romantic Schwerin Palace, situated on an island in the Lake Schwerin. The palace was one of the main residences of the dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg until 1918 and is the official seat of the state parliament since 1990; the city has a intact old town, thanks to only minor damage in World War II. Schwerin is located within the metropolitan region of Hamburg and close to that of Berlin, to nearby regiopolises of Rostock and Lübeck. Major industries and employers include high technology, machine building, government agencies, railway supply, consumer goods and tourism. Schwerin has the FHM, HdBA and the Design School. Schwerin is enclosed by lakes; the largest of these lakes, the Schweriner See, has an area of 60 km2.
In the middle part of these lakes there was a settlement of the Slavic Obotrite. The area was called Zuarin, the name Schwerin is derived from that designation. In 1160, Henry the Lion defeated the Obotrites and captured Schwerin; the town was expanded into a powerful regional centre. A castle was built on this site, expanded to become a ducal palace, it is haunted by the small, impious ghost, called Petermännchen. In 1358, Schwerin became a part of the Duchy of Mecklenburg, making it the seat of the duchy from on. About 1500, the construction of the Schwerin Palace began, as a residence for the dukes. After the division of Mecklenburg, Schwerin became the capital of the Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Between 1765 and 1837, the town of Ludwigslust served as the capital. In the mid-1800s, many residents from Schwerin moved to the United States, many to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Today Milwaukee and Schwerin are sister cities. After 1918, during the German Revolution, resulting in the fall of all the German monarchies, the Grand Duke abdicated.
Schwerin became capital of the Free State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern thereafter. At the end of World War II, on 2 May 1945, Schwerin was taken by United States troops, it was turned over to the British on 1 June 1945, one month on 1 July 1945, it was handed over to the Soviet forces, as the British and American forces pulled back from the line of contact to the predesignated occupation zones. Schwerin was in the Soviet Occupation Zone, to become the German Democratic Republic, it was the capital of the State of Mecklenburg which at that time included the western part of Pomerania. After the states were dissolved in the GDR, in 1952, Schwerin served as the capital of the Schwerin district. After reunification in 1990, the former state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was recreated as one of the Bundesländer. Rostock was a serious contender for state capital but the decision went in favour of Schwerin; the urban area of Schwerin is divided into each with a local council. The districts consist of one or more districts.
The local councilors have between 15 members depending on the number of inhabitants. They are determined by the city council for the duration of the election period of the city council after each municipal election; the local councilors are to hear important matters concerning the district and have a right of initiative. However, the final decisions are made by the city council of the city as a whole; the eighteen current districts are the following: District 1: Schelfstadt, Schelfwerder District 2: Altstadt, Paulsstadt, Lewenberg District 3: Grosser Dreesch District 4: Neu Zippendorf District 5: Mueßer Holz District 6: Gartenstadt, Ostorf District 7: Lankow District 8: Weststadt District 9: Krebsförden District 10: Wüstmark, Göhrener Tannen District 11: Görries District 12: Friedrichsthal District 13: Neumühle, Sacktannen District 14: Warnitz District 15: Wickendorf Locality 16: Medewege Locality 17: Zippendorf Locality 18: Mueß City buses and trams are run by NVS. Schwerin Hauptbahnhof is connected by rail to Berlin and Rostock.
The landmark of the city is the Schwerin Palace, located on an island in the lake of the same name. It was, for centuries, the residence of the Dukes of Mecklenburg and today is the seat of the Landtag. Schwerin Cathedral, built in 1260–1416 in Brick Gothic style; the Alter Garten square, surrounded by buildings such as the 18th-century Altes Palais, the neoclassical Staatliches Museum Schwerin, the Staatstheater. The town hall. Schelfkirche built 1238, but rebuilt in 1713 after destruction by a storm. TV Tower Schwerin-Zippendorf; the Staatliches Museum Schwerin-Kunstsammlungen houses a remarkable collection of 17th-century Dutch paintings and German art from medieval and renaissance masters up to the present day. There are a collection of Greek vases, the notable collection of Paintings of Jean-Baptiste Oudry, a collection of sculptures of Houdon, German 18th-century court paintings, works by such modern artists as Max Liebermann, Franz Stuck, Marcel Duchamp etc; the Graphic cabinet houses rich collections of Dutc
May Day is a public holiday celebrated on 1 May. It is an ancient Northern Hemisphere spring festival and a traditional spring holiday in many cultures. Dances and cake are part of the festivities. In the late 19th century, May Day was chosen as the date for International Workers' Day by the Socialists and Communists of the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago. International Workers' Day can be referred to as "May Day", but it is a different celebration from the traditional May Day; the earliest known May celebrations appeared with the Floralia, festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, held on 27 April during the Roman Republic era, the Maiouma or Maiuma, a festival celebrating Dionysus and Aphrodite on an unknown date in May every three years. The Floralia opened with theatrical performances. In the Floralia, Ovid says that goats were released as part of the festivities. Persius writes that crowds were pelted with vetches and lupins. A ritual called the Florifertum was performed on either April 27 or May 3, during which a bundle of wheat ears was carried into a shrine, though it is not clear if this devotion was made to Flora or Ceres.
Floralia concluded with competitive events and spectacles, a sacrifice to Flora. According to the 6th century chronicles of John Malalas, the Maiouma was a "nocturnal dramatic festival, held every three years and known as Orgies, that is, the Mysteries of Dionysus and Aphrodite" and that it was "known as the Maioumas because it is celebrated in the month of May-Artemisios". During this time, enough money was set aside by the government for torches and other expenses to cover a thirty-day festival of "all-night revels." The Maiouma was celebrated with splendorous offerings. Its reputation for licentiousness caused it to be suppressed during the reign of Emperor Constantine, though a less debauched version of it was restored during the reigns of Arcadius and Honorius, only to be suppressed again during the same period. A May festival celebrated in Germanic countries, Walpurgis Night, commemorates the official canonization of Saint Walpurga on May 1st, 870.. In Gaelic culture, the evening of April 30th was the celebration of Beltane, the start of the summer season.
First attested in 900 AD, the celebration focused on the symbolic use of fire to bless cattle and other livestock as they were moved to summer pastures. This custom continued into the early 19th century, during which time cattle would be made to jump over fires to protect their milk from being stolen by fairies. People would leap over the fires for luck. Since the 18th century, many Roman Catholics have observed May – and May Day – with various May devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary In works of art, school skits, so forth, Mary's head will be adorned with flowers in a May crowning. 1 May is one of two feast days of the Catholic patron saint of workers St Joseph the Worker, a carpenter, husband to Mother Mary, surrogate father of Jesus. Replacing another feast to St. Joseph, this date was chosen by Pope Pius XII in 1955 as a counterpoint to the communist International Workers Day celebrations on May Day; the best known modern May Day traditions, observed both in Europe and North America, include dancing around the maypole and crowning the Queen of May.
Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the tradition of giving of "May baskets," small baskets of sweets or flowers left anonymously on neighbours' doorsteps. In the late 20th century, many neopagans began reconstructing some of the older pagan festivals and combining them with more developed European secular and Catholic traditions, celebrating May Day as a pagan religious festival. Traditional English May Day rites and celebrations include crowning a May Queen and celebrations involving a maypole, around which dancers circle with ribbons. Morris dancing has been linked to May Day celebrations; the earliest records of maypole celebrations date to the 14th century, by the 15th century the maypole tradition was well established in southern Britain. The spring bank holiday on the first Monday in May was created in 1978. In February 2011, the UK Parliament was reported to be considering scrapping the bank holiday associated with May Day, replacing it with a bank holiday in October coinciding with Trafalgar Day, to create a "United Kingdom Day".
Unlike the other Bank Holidays and common law holidays, the first Monday in May is taken off from schools by itself, not as part of a half term or end of term holiday. This is because it has no Christian significance and does not otherwise fit into the usual school holiday pattern. May Day was abolished and its celebration banned by Puritan parliaments during the Interregnum, but reinstated with the restoration of Charles II in 1660. 1 May 1707, was the day the Act of Union came into effect, joining England and Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. In Oxford, it is a centuries-old tradition for May Morning revellers to gather below the Great Tower of Magdalen College at 6 am to listen to the college choir sing traditional madrigals as a conclusion to the previous night's celebrations. Since the 1980s some people jump off Magdalen Bridge into the River Cherwell. For some years, the bridge has been closed on 1 Ma