Question regarding a Saying about the First of May

I received this email today…

Do you know the words to:

First of May is Petticoat Day;
Second of May is shoelace Day;

What comes next?

Thank You,

Rose Ann

If anyone knows the words to this saying, please comment below.



This article was posted on Monday, May 1st, 2006 at 6:26 pm and is filed under English, English Nursery Rhymes, English Proverbs, Holidays Around the World, Languages, May Day, Nursery Rhymes, Proverbs, Proverbs about May, Proverbs about the Months. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

26 Responses to “Question regarding a Saying about the First of May”

  1. bertha grieco Says:

    I was wondering that also.

  2. EILEEN Says:


  3. Lisa Says:

    All I know so far is

    First of May is Petticoat Day;
    Second of May is shoelace Day…

    Still looking for the rest! Can anyone else help?

    Mama Lisa

  4. Jane Says:

    Would like to know all seven days of May. Am sure there is a necktie day, pigtail day and kissing day (seventh of May) in addition to petticoat day and shoelace day. And I guess it was a New Jersey thing as that is where I grew up and my friends knew it but can’t remember all of it. Thanks for any help.

  5. Lisa Says:

    I still haven’t found an answer yet. But I did find out something interesting about May 1st, or May Day, being petticoat Day. The Puritans did not like the festivities of May Day. So they ended many of the May Day customs in England – which they thought were Heathenish. However, according to “The Story of the London Parks” (1815) by L. R. Sadler, “young and old still continued to hallow May day with a display of their best silk petticoats and velvet doublets, ruft’s and fardingales. Hyde Park was the place to be seen in spick and span new finery on that day…” So people would still dress up on May 1st and that’s why it was “petticoat day”.

  6. Jimmypoo Says:

    I sure wish I could help you…also raised in New Jesery but have not found anyone elsewere that ever heard of such a notion as those days of May…only remember the first two that others have offered. Could it be there weren’t any others?

    If, in checking with my old friends from N.J., I find anything more, I’ll let everyone know via this website.
    May 6, 2013

  7. Gayle Says:

    2nd was shoelace day, 3rd was button day, 4th was zipper day…not sure of the 5th! Also not sure if that is in the right order but remember wearing shorts under my dress on the first as the boys would pull your dress up. HA!

  8. Jimmypoo Says:

    Dear Gayle,

    Thanx. That’s a good start.

    I’ll go with your selection for the time being and check it out with some others, along with the sequence.

    Oh! I do remember “zipper”.


  9. Gayle Says:

    I think the 5th of may was kissing day!

  10. Jimmypoo Says:

    I doubt it was “kissing day” as I’m sure that is not something I would have missed!

  11. Alice Says:

    Going to a private Catholic school in New Jersey, growing up there I remember parts of the song first of May Peddicoat day, second of May shoelace day, third of May necktie day, fourth of May I’m not sure if it was zipper day, but I definitely remember fifth of May was kissing day because I couldn’t wait for 5 May to come around in hopes that some young lad would kiss me on my cheek but it never happened. Pigtails or possibly ribbon day not sure, wish I can remember it all we sure sung it enough times over the years of growing up in hey city of jersey.

  12. Lisa Says:

    I saw another site on the web has May 3rd as Pinching Day and the 4th as Punching Day. Elsewhere, I read that in the old days girls would wear their dresses with an inch of their petticoats showing for the benefit of the boys – who would flip up the bottom of the girls’ skirts.

  13. Fred Says:

    It would seem that NJ was the center of Petticoat Day pranks, and North Jersey more than anywhere else. In the early 50’s the boys did petticoats and next day girls did shoelaces, untieing them.

  14. Bruce L Says:

    I remember the May stuff, petticoat day, kissing day, etc, when I was in Center grade school in Bloomfield, NJ in the North, Essex County, across the river from NYC. Fourth or Fifth grade for me was in the 1948, 1949 time and that’s when I participated in kissing day, etc.

    Tomorrow is May 1st so I was thinking of the rhymes!

  15. Elaine Says:

    Fun trip down memory lane. I was just sitting in my home in MA and it came to me. “First of May is Petticoat Day.” So I decided to Google it and found this page. Especially loved Bruce L’s comment above since he was from Bloomfield, NJ also! Hey Bruce! Demarest School 6th grade-1966. I remember it mostly in the lower grades such as 2-4th. Girls always reminded their friends on the last day of April to wear shorts the next day. Good times in Bloomfield!!

  16. David Greene Says:

    My dad used to say “1st of May is Petticoat day”. I never knew what he was talking about; even in the early ’60s no one wore petticoats. Never heard any rhyme beyond that. He was from Bergen County, NJ and I grew up in Monmouth County, NJ.

  17. Joan Waring Says:

    I grew up in Bloomfield, NJ too! The First of May was Petticoat Day even in the 1940’s! And it was “celebrated” primarily in grades 2-3– mostly during recess as I recall my days in Demarest School. I think May 2 was shoelace day– but not certain.

    Very few people I know now have ever heard of Petticoat Day–and I still live in NJ. I wonder why NJ? And if Bloomfield was unique.

  18. Susan Says:

    Another Bloomfield gal here. Watsessing School (1965-’73).I remember pettiicoat day and zipper day all through grade school. No one ever got offended or in trouble. The Good Old fun Days of our youth. Bruce I’m sorry to say but Center School no longer exists.

  19. Lynn Says:

    I just looked up “First of May Petticoat Day” to help me remember my grammar school days, and came upon this discussion. It was popular at School 16 in Clifton in the 1960’s too! Crazy fun memories of making sure I had shorts under my dress and no zippers on my back on those days!

  20. Sandy Says:

    This must be a Jersey thing. Only Jersey comments. Yep remember it well and from Jeeze and proud of it!

  21. Pat Says:

    I am from Nutley NJ and I remember this song from grammar school but also only sure about petticoat day and shoelace day. It seems it was only a jersey thing.

  22. Debbie Says:

    I am from Nutley but went to grammar school in Bloomfield at St. Thomas the Apostle. This was back in the day, 50’s and early 60’s. Yes, I remember in the school yard petticoat day, button day, zipper day. We were gender separated at lunch time, boys on one side of the playground, girls on the other with no interacting! So we girls flipped up our friend’s uniform skirt showing their slip. Woo woo We thought we were sooo bad. I can’t remember past the first three day high jinx. It was fun finding others that remember these ol’ schoolyard pranks.

  23. Phyllis Says:

    I grew up in wappingers falls ny and went through grade school doing all the the days of May Song. Do not remember the order. I’m now 80!!Is such a great memory 😊

  24. Shirley Says:

    I went to Pine St Chr in Passaic NJ. First of May=petticoat day, Second of May=shoelace day. I remember there was pigtail day and button day but forget the rest…….

  25. karen Says:

    One day is throw hats away!
    Can’t remember what day though.
    My mum used to say this when I was a child x

  26. Debbie Says:

    Grew up in Nutley and went to St. Thomas the Apostle in Bloomfield in the 60’s. The girls were separated from the boys in the playground (heaven forbid we talked or interacted!) so flipping our uniform skirts up was a girl friend thing. I seem to remember third of May being button Day 🤔🤷‍♀️but forget the rest. We all wore slips,I mean petticoats, back in the Day. Good fun memories! Thanks for sharing

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