May 1

May Day

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Originally a pagan festival of fertility which celebrated spring’s arrival, May Day endured as a celebration of courtship and lovemaking for young married people. In the Middle Ages, churches supported May Day celebrations, but around Edward VI’s rule during the Protestant Reformation, concerns began to arise. According to Philip Stubbes,

 

I have heard it credibly reported (and that viva voce) by men of great gravitie and reputation, that of fortie, threescore, or a hundred maides going to the wood over night, there have scarecely the thirde parte of them returned home againe undefiled.

 

In the 19th century, May Day became popular again, this time as a holiday for children. Traditions such as the maypole and May Queen evolved around this time. 

 

Image provided by Wikimedia Commons 

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© Bill Nelson 2019

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