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Anne Garrison  Maypole Dancing teacher

May Day Traditions

The May Bush or Common Hawthorn flowers in the month of May as its name suggests. Before the re-adjustment of the calendar in 1752 the first blossoms often marked the beginning and continued to the end of the calendar month. In the average year now, you have to wait until around the 11th, although recent mild springs have brought the date forward.

Ne'er cast a clout Till May be out  - Don't remove any warm clothes until the hawthorn is in blossom

It is considered very unlucky to bring May blossom indoors

If you should be out in a thunderstorm:

Beware the Oak, It draws a stroke

Avoid the Ash, It courts a flash

Creep Under a Thorn, It will save you from harm

The fair maid who the first of May,

Goes to the field at the break of day,

And washes in dew from the Hawthorn tree

Will ever after handsome be


O thou merry month complete

May, thy very name is sweet!

May was maid in olden times

And is still in Scottish rhymes:

May is the blooming hawthorn bough,

May's the month that's laughing now

Leigh Hunt (1774-1859)

The famous Glastonbury Thorn is said to have sprung from the staff of Joseph of Aramathea when he visited England to set up the first Christian church.

Glastonbury is still a place of pilgrimage for the religious and assorted mystics.

The trees (one on top of Wearyall Hill and one each in the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey and the Parish Church) are a variety of the Common Hawthorn (bi-flora) which has a second flowering period usually in early January (around Christmas Day before the calendar change of 1752).

It only grows true from cuttings such as the one at Appleton, Cheshire which, every July is decorated and danced around in the "Bawming of the Thorn" ceremony.

A sprig of flowering thorn use to be paraded through the streets of Helston as part of the famous Furry (of Flora) Dance. The first blossoms were just appearing by the 8th of May  (the feast of the Apparition of St Michael)

Thank you to Andrew Godfrey of Folkscape.org.uk   for the use of the above information

A useful books on May Traditions

May Day, the Coming of Spring  by Doc Rowe  published by English Heritage and EFDSS  £8.99

The English Year by Steve Roud  published by Penguin Books

may blossom apple blossom

May Blossom

Apple Blossom