Although summer does not officially begin until June, May Day marks its beginning and celebrations continue throughout the month.
Some popular May Day traditions include:
- The May Pole. Were you made to dance around one of these in school? Traditionally May Day was often celebrated by young men and women dancing on the village green around a specially-decorated tree called a maypole. The branches of a slender tree were cut off, coloured ribbons tied to the top and the revellers held on to the ends of the ribbons and danced. Some villages still carry on the tradition today.
- A dewy complexion. This May Day tradition involves getting up before dawn and going outside to wash your face in dew - according to folklore this keeps the complexion beautiful.
- "Bringing in the May" involves getting up very early, gathering flowers, making them into garlands and then giving them to your friends to wear. If you are feeling particularly charitable, folklore advises that it is good time to make up a "May basket" of flowers to take to someone who needs cheering up.
Or for crazy May spectacles check these out:
On Cooper's Hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, people race down a steep hill following a large round cheese. The hill is concave and has an incline of 1:1 in some places. The first person to cross the finishing line wins a Double Gloucester cheese weighing about 8lbs (around 3.5kg). The custom may have been started by the Romans or ancient Britons and be an ancient fertility rite or a way of guaranteeing the rights of the villagers to graze their livestock on the surrounding land. In some years, there have been a lot of injuries, causing the event to be cancelled a couple of times in recent years. In these years, the cheese was rolled down the hill, but nobody was allowed to chase it.
Endon Well dressing
In Endon in Staffordshire, the villagers dress their well, hold a fayre (village celebration) and crown a girl as the Well Dressing Queen. Local men hold a competition, known as 'Tossing the Sheaf', in which they compete to see who can toss a bale of straw the highest.