Friday, 1 May 2020

May Country Days

From The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady.

The name of this month is of doubtful origin. Ovid suggests the goddess Maia, the mother of Mercury. In the Roman Catholic Church May is known as the 'Month of Mary.' 
 Or perhaps from the word maiores (meaning Elders) as this was the month when the Romans celebrated the older members of their families

So many weather sayings for May, everyone desperate to know what the weather would be like during the main growing season.

Best known, although no one has ever decided for definite if it means May the month or may the flower of the hawthorn.


Ne'er cast a clout 'til May is out.

                                  Most old sayings prefer a wet and cold month (hope it isn't!)

May damp and cool fills the barns and wine vats

Water in May is bread all the year

A cold May is kindly,
 And fills the barn nicely.
A wet May
Makes a big load of hay.

In the middle of May comes the tail of the winter
A Page from The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden.

For ancient Celtic people May 1st was Beltane( Bel's Fire). The first day of summer and bonfires were lit to help the sun regain it's strength. A day of feasting and in many places there are still traditional events on this day, involving dancing round maypoles, May Queens, Garland dancers and Morris men and hobby horses.
https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/0a/28/79/a8/family-and-dog-friendly.jpg
The Maypole Pub in Wetherden, a village in Mid Suffolk.
I don't know how many pubs in England are called The Maypole but in the village where I went to primary school there is a one and a very old building it is too...... circa 1530. The maypole in the middle of the front yard wasn't there until a few years ago.
 
This is my vase of flowers for the first week of May. The last of my tulips from the cutting garden and some invasive bluebells - not native.

I won't be bringing in May blossom or Elder flowers because...........

Hawthorn blossom and Elder flowers
Fill the house with evil powers.


Watch out for late frosts around the third week of May. These are attributed to Saint Dunstan (or St. Franklin in some versions). Apparently he made a pact with the devil in order to obtain good sales of his beer. In return for his soul the devil promised to attack the blossoms of the  apple trees in the orchards so that the cider makers would have less cider to sell.




Back Tomorrow
Sue

27 comments:

  1. How fantastic to have a pub with a maypole in the car park and such a shame it won;t be used this year.
    Naughty St Dunstan. I've not heard that one before.
    xx

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  2. All the best for May. I love the Country Diary illustrations, they are always so inspiring.

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  3. Plenty of mystery about the name origin and folk lore surrounding the month of May for certain. I always think May is one of the prettiest months in the country lanes.

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  4. Ah bluebells. Like you I have the weed Spanish ones. I have really missed our English Bluebell walk.

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  5. This is my favourite month - it is always SO BEAUTIFUL in the countryside in May. Know and love all those sayings, though I'm not familiar with the St Dunstan one either. I wasn't allowed to bring May into the house either - mum would have had a hissy fit, he was very superstitious. I get it from her yet my kids just think I'm batty! The Country Diary illustrations are still favourites of mine, and in fact, I am contemplating doing two x-stitch patterns from a Country Diary book of them - one of Swallows swooping, and one of Bluebells, Campions and Cow Parsley. I've done them before as gifts for friends, but not for myself. It's probably 25 years or more since I worked them too.

    The Maypole brings back memories of my grandad, who worked for Maypole Dairy in Bovey Tracey, Barnstaple and Frome.

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  6. As a kid I thought that the clouts not to be cast meant no fighting until June. Lesley

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  7. One of the ladies from my charity shop always used to say ne'er cast a clout 'til May is out whenever someone was underdressed at this time of year! And sounded very wise when saying it.

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  8. The first of May ... where has the bloody time gone, and WHY is it so cold and wet now. And as for St Dunstan how dare he try and spoil cider production. Cider is the only 'beer type' drink I like.

    Yep ... I'm in a stroppy mood ;-)

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  9. It is a great month for everything starting to grow and turn to green but it is always expected to be warm and it never is.

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  10. There was a Maypole in the centre of the village I grew up in and every year there was the traditional dancing around it by the pupils from my school. I remember the lessons and rehearsals we had as it was a complicated process with all the different coloured ribbons intertwined to make the intricate pattern on the Maypole and then doing it in reverse to release them. All the village turned out to watch us. I remember there was a holiday atmosphere about the day. Sadly another thing consigned to the past and there will come a time in the future when someone will try to resurrect the old traditions just like the Morris Dancing.

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    1. The Maypole was still there the last time I visited the village and I remember there was a stone horse trough not far away.

      I always thought the saying, "Don't cast a clout 'til May is out" was referring to coats and not discarding them as the weather is still uncertain. I could be wrong.

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  11. I use to work for COTY (perfume co.) and we were always given a sprig of Lily of the Valley. I remember we had a maypole and did a dance with ribbons at school. Hazel c uk🌈🌈🌈

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  12. That brought back lots of wonderful memories of dancing around the maypole at school, such nice thoughts.

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  13. I can remember in junior school learning the Maypole dance. We don't seem to celebrate the holidays as I did as a child. Easter bonnets were big too!

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  14. I always love your first of the month posts and the words and pictures you share from The Country Diary. Your flowers are beautiful and the bluebells give the arrangement a nice variety.

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  15. we always danced around the maypole at my junior school. ( in the 1950's).

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  16. What luck to have a maypole, is it still used?

    God bless.

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  17. Isn't Edith's Country Diary just so beautiful? I have two copies - both picked up secondhand - because I just cant pass them up when I see them!!

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  18. We usually have Morris men dancing but of course this year they have not.
    Happy May to you!

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  19. I used to dance the maypole when in primary school in Devon - those were the days - and yes, I have Edith Holden's English Country Diary too of course!
    Enjoy all the lovely May days ahead.

    ReplyDelete
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