May Day Traditions

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Believe it or not, today is the first day of May and I for one cannot believe how quickly the year is flying by! In honour of it being the first of May and there being just one working day left before yet another three day weekend, we thought that it would be a good idea to take a look at some of the traditional ways that May Day is celebrated, with a couple of facts thrown in!

1. May Day is traditionally thought of as being a celebration of summer and the beginning of nicer weather.

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2. Padstow’s May Day tradition is the procession of the ‘Obby ‘Oss (Hobby Horse). It is one of the oldest traditions of its kind and up to 30,000 people visit Padstow on May Day to join in the festivities!

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3. Traditionally a May Queen would be crowned, and the chosen young female would begin the celebrations and lead the parade. She wears a white dress and a flower crown to symbolise purity and spring.

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4. Whilst the origins of May Day are somewhat unknown, many believe that it originated as a pagan fertility festival.

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5. The 1st May is also International Workers Day, which was created to celebrate the working class and the labour market. It is often marked with organised street demonstrations and marches.

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6. Possibly the most well known May Day tradition is that of dancing around the May Pole; a ceremonial dance around a tall pole that is decorated with flowers and often has ribbons tied to it which the dancers weave into patterns.

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7. Traditionally, girls would head out before dawn on May Day and wash their faces with the morning dew. They believed that doing this would keep them beautiful for the rest of the year.

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8. Morris Dancing is also a customary way to celebrate May Day, with groups of men or women dressing in traditional costumes and performing energetic routines. The type of costume worn by Morris Dancers depends on which part of the country they are dancing in.

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9. Although May Day has been celebrated for hundreds of years, it was only designated a bank holiday in 1978. This early May bank holiday always takes place on the first Monday of May, however the 1st May is still recognised as May Day.

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10. On May Eve in Wales, ‘Spirit nights’ would take place as it was believed that it was one of the three nights of the year when the supernatural world was closest to the real world.

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Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

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