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5 Facts about May Day and the Early May Bank Holiday

5 Facts about May Day and the Early May Bank Holiday

5 Facts about May Day and the Early May Bank Holiday - informationAll of us know that one person who is a mine of useful 😉 information, and guest blogger Kelly Wallace Horne is one such individual. I have known Kelly for almost 20 years, these days she runs her own publishing and marketing business but she is my “go to” person to unravel many of the mystery’s associated with our much-loved traditions. For the more enquiring amongst you, do have a read…I certainly learned something!

 

Caroline

 

 


Take 5 minutes out to learn about May Day…

by Kelly Wallace Horne

 

1. When/what/why is “May Day”?

The 1st of May is known as “May Day” and traditionally involves dancing around a May Pole, crowning a May Queen, Morris Dancing and generally celebrating the oncoming summer. Celebrations and customs differ from country to culture, but the gist of the celebration is the same throughout.

 

2. What are May Day traditions?

The tradition of “dancing around the Maypole” is steeped in paganism and is celebrated by various cultures around the world.

 

5 Facts about May Day and the Early May Bank Holiday - Celebrating summerEngland

Traditionally, a young tree would be felled and erected to dance around in celebration of the oncoming summer. Ribbons and flower garlands would add to a colourful display, fitting to a bright spring day of celebration.

 

Scotland and Ireland

Back in the Middle Ages the Gaelic people of Scotland and Ireland celebrated the festival of “Beltane”. Beltane means “Day of Fire”. They built large bonfires and danced at night to celebrate – a tradition that many are revisiting now.

 

5 Facts about May Day and the Early May Bank Holiday - Pagan festival of Walpurgis nightWales

In Wales May Day is also known as Calan Mai or Calan Haf. May 1st was an important time for celebration and festivities in Wales as it was considered to be the start of summer. Marking neither an equinox nor a solstice, May Day referred to the point in the year when herds would be turned out to pasture. Again, lighting fires are very much associated with the first of May. In the time of the Druids, fires for the Baltan (see Beltane, above!), represented an opportunity for purification, and to protect animals from disease. These fire-lighting ceremonies were carried out with a great deal of pomp and ceremony!

 

Other countries

Walpurgis Night – Some countries celebrate the night before May Day called “Walpurgis Night”. These countries include Germany, Sweden, Finland, and the Czech Republic. The celebration is named after the English missionary Saint Walpurga. Again, people celebrate with large bonfires and dancing.

 

5 Facts about May Day and the Early May Bank Holiday - Maypole Dancing3. Dancing around the Maypole – what’s that all about?

So, most countries/cultures celebrate May Day with bonfires and dancing, so where does Maypole Dancing come into it? A maypole is a wooden pole, about 3-5 metres tall, erected as a part of a variety of European folk festivals, around which a “maypole dance” often takes place. The festivals may occur on May Day (May 1st) or Pentecost (Whitsun), although in some countries (for example, Sweden) it is instead erected at Midsummer. Historians believe the Maypole Dance originates from Germanic pagan fertility rituals. In simple terms, the ribbons descending from the top of the Maypole will criss-cross as everyone dances, until each participant is united with their ideal partner!

 

5 Facts about May Day and the Early May Bank Holiday - Labor Day4. How come we get a Bank Holiday for May Day? (Well, some of us do!)

In 1890 the May Bank Holiday became associated with International Workers’ Day as the Second International organised a day of protests in support of an eight-hour working day. After that the 1st May was linked with protests and became an official holiday in 1978. In America, May 1st is known to this day as “Labor Day”. Canada celebrates it’s equivalent on the first Monday in September.

 

5 Facts about May Day and the Early May Bank Holiday

 

 

5 Facts about May Day and the Early May Bank Holiday - May Day distress signal5. So, May Day has nothing to do with planes crashing?!

“Mayday! Mayday!” is a well-known distress word used by pilots and maritime crews when radioing back to base and other crafts. The “mayday” procedure word was originated in 1923, by a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport in London. The officer, Frederick Stanley Mockford, was asked to think of a word that would indicate distress and would easily be understood by all pilots and ground staff in an emergency. Since much of the traffic at the time was between Croydon and Le Bourget Airport in Paris, he proposed the expression “mayday” from the French m’aidez (‘help me’), a shortened form of venez m’aidez (‘come and help me’). It is entirely unrelated to May Day celebrations and the early May Bank Holiday!

 

Working or not, enjoy your early May Bank Holiday weekend! My guess is that whatever you’re up to it’ll involve ponies!

 

 

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The content provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that the information they are working to is correct and appropriate for their specific circumstances.

© Caroline Carter Recruitment Ltd and The Grooms List, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Caroline Carter Recruitment Ltd and www.thegroomslist.co.uk with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Caroline Carter Recruitment Ltd
The Stables
Fildyke Road
Meppershall
Bedfordshire
SG17 5LU

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0203 006 5730 / 07747 686 118

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