Friday, May 1, 2009

The Merry Month of May

The first day of May.

In the Northern hemisphere it’s traditionally a time to celebrate the arrival of spring and the herald of summer.

In the UK classic “maying” involves maypoles and dancers, the crowning of a May queen and possibly her consort, the May king, or maybe the Green Man, the lighting of bonfires and other colourful folk celebrations, although in Europe generally the day seems to have moved on, to one of workers’ marches and possibly political protest.

Authors have embraced the concept of celebration associated with May from the time of Chaucer, whose pilgrims did their travelling in May. There are frequent references to ‘doing observance to a morn of May’ in Shakespeare. An overwhelmingly rural society would have been much closer to the passage of the seasons, celebrating them and also remembering ancient rituals that once ensured fertility, good crops and healthy livestock.

Today’s innocuous folk celebrations have long and sometimes slightly sinister roots.

These days the Celtic festival of Beltane has been superseded by its spookier cousin, Halloween, particularly in paranormal romance. Perhaps it’s time for a change of focus - to a month traditionally associated with love? I’m sure there are spooky possibilities in long twilights and mysterious fires, lit on distant hills.

One that bears thinking about.


Savanna Kougar said...

Evonne, fascinating. This is a holy day for pagan and wiccan religions, I believe.
I love the history behind this day and the spiritual possibilities.

Evonne Wareham said...

Sav - I agree - the 'folklore' stuff is facinating, whatever the culture, and too often overlooked. And a rich mine for writers if we are willing to take the time.