It's true! According to tradition, all clowns are born on May first, which is the reason why a rookie, or beginner clown is known as a "First of May."
Some believe that the tradition of "First of May" may have begun with Joseph "Joey" Grimaldi. Others believe that it begun with the American circus. Which ever is the truth, it is an important holiday for clowns.
Here's a bit of background on First of May.
First, here's Joseph Grimaldi.
Joseph Grimaldi(1) was an innovator, his performance as Joey introduced the modern clown to the world. Today he is known as the father of modern clowning.
Joseph Grimaldi(2) was the original 'Clown Joey', the term 'Joey' being used to describe clowns since his day. Of his own name he punned 'I am grim all day - but I make you laugh at night!' Grimaldi became the most popular clown in pantomime, and was responsible for establishing the clown as the main character in the Harlequinade, in place of Harlequin.
His style of clowning had its origins in the Italian commedia dell'arte of the sixteenth century, but in the popular Harlequinades of the early nineteenth century he emerged as the founding father of modern day clowns. He died in May 1837.
Second, here's the second theory. The month of May was traditionally the time when circuses made their season run, thus rookie clowns are known as "First of Mays." May being the beginning of the warm months was an ideal time of the year to launch the circus season, which ran through the summer months.
Today, circuses may begin their run as early as January, and end in December, but one thing is constant, clowns continue to be born on May first.
Please join me in wishing all clowns a "Happy First Of May."
If you are a clown, remember to celebrate your special day.
We, clowns, deserve, need, and earned this special day.
I invite you to revive this tradition by celebrating May first as "All Clowns Birthday." It maybe us who will be remembered as the one who made it possible for First of May to become a National holiday, even an international celebration.
We can do it.