Hundreds of thousands of children are selling May flowers every year in Sweden. While the children are selling the pins to collect money for charity, select cities carry “intelligent posters” where people can vote for next year’s May flower.

The Swedish Majblomma (the May Flower) turned 100 years old in 2007. Majblomman is a little pin sold by children age 9-12 to collect money for charity, charity specifically aimed at sick and handicapped children.

Founder of the enterprise was Beda Hallberg (1869-1945), a socially conscious woman who worked as a volunteer among the poor in Göteborg. In those days, prior to Sweden’s welfare system, nobody paid much attention to the sick and poor. Whatever help existed was insufficient and often given out at random. The main concern at the time was tuberculosis.

Hallberg wanted to focus her help on children, and with that in mind, she founded Förstamajblommans Riksförbund in Göteborg in 1907. Her idea was to give a little flower as a “receipt” to the children who donated money to her foundation. The flower was to be sold on the first of May every year at such a low prize that everyone could afford it. And so the Majblomma became the children’s flower. Even though Sweden today is a different society, there are still children who need help.

Today the Förstamajblommans riksförbund has 800 local organizations, each works with the local school system as well as with medical and health services in the area. The goal is to help children who suffer because of illness, handicap, or difficult social circumstances. Allowances are given out to single children, projects or research.

The first majblommor (1907) were sold in Göteborg only and cost 10 öre each (a little over 1 cent) – 139,000 were sold that year. Last year (2008) around 150,000 children all over Sweden collected 39 million Swedish crowns in two weeks. The color of the first majblomma was a deep blue, but every year the color changes. You can buy a single pin, or a wreath. For a while there were also majblomman bumper stickers. The 100th anniversary year’s majblomma was a pretty cornflower blue with a yellow center – like the Swedish flag. This year’s Majblomma is pink and deep red with a green center.

To see all the majblommor through the years, read more about the history (Swedish only), or to e-mail a majblomma to someone special, go to: Majblomman