May 1st: May Day

Ibolya Lőrincz By Ibolya Lőrincz, 30th Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Culture>Holidays & Celebrations

May Day is the celebration of spring and its origin goes back to ancient times.

The Origin of May Day

May Day has been celebrated since the ancient times. Its origin goes back to the pagan past of Europe when the Romans honoured Maia, the goddess of fertility, who gave the name to the month May. They also celebrated Flora (flower, fleur), the goddess of spring and youth. People gathered flowers for their honour and decorated their temples. When the Romans conquered half of Europe including the present England and other lands, they took this custom with them. After they left and Christianity became the main religion, spring was still celebrated with flowers.

Celebrating May Day

In the Middle Ages everyone went ‘a-maying’. They rose at sunrise and collected flowers which were brought back to towns and villages with much fun and merrymaking. In Hungary girls also brought green branches of bushes or trees and came back singing and dancing. They were dressed in white and two of them formed a gate with their arms held up and against each other the rest of the girls walked under this ‘golden gate’ singing spring songs and dancing. They usually danced along the main street in the village bringing spring and fertility with the green branches.

Setting up Maypoles

Another important event of May Day was setting up maypoles. Young men spent the night in the woods and looked for a thin but strong and tall young tree to cut it out and set it up under the window of the girl they would have liked to court to. These maypoles were decorated with flowers, ribbons and in some areas with bottles of wine. Though this custom faded during the past decades but nowadays it seems to have its renaissance. Nevertheless I am lucky to say that when I was a beginner teacher in a little town, once I had a maypole set up under my window and this is still one of my most memorable experiences.

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Tags

A-Maying, Ancient Times, Celebration, Christianity, Fertility, Flora, Flowers, Goddess, Hungary, Maia, May, May 1St, May Day, Maypole, Middle Ages, Romans, Spring

Meet the author

author avatar Ibolya Lőrincz
I am from Hungary and I am a teacher at a secondary grammar school teaching Literature and English as a second language. I intend to write some book reviews about my favourites.
I have some nice and cute cats. I am planning to write their stories.
I ...(more)

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Comments

author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
1st May 2012 (#)

Happy May Day!

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author avatar Buzz
1st May 2012 (#)

Yes, happy May Day, Ibolya. Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar Ibolya Lőrincz
1st May 2012 (#)

The same to you, Mark and Buzz!

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author avatar Funom Makama
2nd May 2012 (#)

I love this piece, thanks for the great share

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author avatar Ibolya Lőrincz
2nd May 2012 (#)

I am glad you like it. Thanks for your appreciation.

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author avatar Williamsji
19th Mar 2013 (#)

I am indeed happy to read the article, written by Ibolya Lőrincz
Good and useful. Congrats
WILLIAMSJI MAVELI

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author avatar Ibolya Lőrincz
19th Mar 2013 (#)

Thanks for your comment. I am glad you found it useful.

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