Design a site like this with
Get started

Some Customs of May Day

Today, May Day is known as La Fête du Travail (Workers’ Day) here in France and celebrated with a public holiday. It has become an occasion to be seen to campaign for workers’ rights and social justice but the date also carries a much older tradition here; it is also la Fête du Muguet, when sprigs of muguet or Lily of the Valley are presented to loved ones.

With roots in the ancient practice of heralding new-growth after the end of winter, the custom is said to originate from May 1560 when King Charles IX was given a bouquet of Lily of the Valley as a token of good luck. Not known for his sensitive side, the young King was so charmed by this gesture that, on the following first of May, he presented a sprig of this flower to all the ladies at his court.

The tradition is still observed today and you will often see these blooms sold in sprigs and bouquets at this time of year; bought by people as gifts for family and friends to whom they are presented as tokens of affection.

May Day Superstitions

However, in Brittany, the custom of using green foliage to express hope and gratitude at this time of year likely extends back to antiquity. For the ancient Celts, the year is thought to have begun on 1 November with the festival of Samhain, which inaugurated the start of winter, while six months later, on 1 May, the feast of Beltane marked the start of summer. Two intermediate festivals, now known as Imbolg on 1 February and Lugnasa on 1 August, divided the year into four equal seasons, the middle of which roughly corresponded to the Midsummer and Midwinter solstices. We need not get too obsessed with exact dates, particularly given the changes wrought by the adoption of the Gregorian calendar mean we are now some two weeks adrift of the dates recorded at the end of Caesar’s reign.

When establishing its liturgical calendar, the infant Church took pains to absorb and divert the popular feelings associated with the old pagan festivals by supplanting these with Christian ones. Thus, ancient celebrations such as the summer solstice were dispossessed by the new religion to become Saint John’s Day; Samhain became All Saints’ Day and Christmas Day appropriated the winter solstice. The Celtic festival of Beltane, midway between the spring equinox and summer solstice, was most effectively subsumed by the moveable feasts of Easter, Ascension and Pentecost, which shared the common theme of rebirth and new life. Such themes were also the focus of another popular festival held at this time of year; the Ancient Roman festival of Floralia, devoted to Flora, the goddess of flowers and fertility, which was celebrated between 28 April and 3 May.

May Day Superstitions

The month of May has therefore long represented one of the pivotal stages in the life of agrarian society in Europe; it heralded the arrival of summer, the renewal of nature and the beginning of the heavy agricultural work upon which the people so depended. With the crops sown, the abundance of the forthcoming harvest and thus one’s hopes for survival through the cold winter months were still uncertain. Given this uncertainty, it is perhaps not surprising that the community’s hopes and fears merged and superstitions born.

Nature’s re-awakening reminded the Breton farmer of the fragility of the boundary between success and failure; over time, rituals developed that both symbolised nature’s renewal and the farmer’s need for protection. In western Brittany, a traditional ritual known as Barrin ar Mae (May Branch) was performed on the eve of May Day. Here, a branch of budding beech but sometimes birch was hung or laid in front of the house and other key structures such as the stable, hen-house and bread oven, in order to bring on good luck and to protect against evil. Similarly, the gateways to fields were often honoured with a May Branch in order to ensure a good harvest and to protect the sown crop against misfortune and witchcraft.

May Day Superstitions

The May Branches were customarily picked only by boys; a privilege that seems to have continued until the 1960s. Although not as popularly practiced as in the past, the ceremony still survives in a few areas to this day; branches being placed in the evening against the homes of the elderly and those of friends, who will not discover this sign of affection until the morning of May Day.

Unfortunately, a related practice, known as Bodig Mae (Girls’ May) disappeared around the time of the Second World War. This ceremony was again only performed by young men, who, on the eve of May Day, visited the homes of young women with a branch, popularly known as ‘the May’, which was left against the door or a window as a declaration of romantic interest. Different traditions were noted in different localities; in some areas, it was a solo enterprise and done anonymously, in others, groups of four or five young men would visit four or five different households and sing songs while one of the party left their dedication.

May Day Superstitions

One custom common to all localities saw the offering placed in the most prominent position available; some were leant against doors so that they would fall inside the house when the door was opened, others were tied against buildings facing the house so that it was the first thing seen on the following morning. The size of the branch offered was said to indicate the depth of the man’s ardour. We can therefore imagine where such notions might have led and the arguments that might have arisen in the house that contained two unmarried sisters and two branches upon the threshold.

While this might sound rather endearing, we should not lose sight of the human element and the bitterness occasionally found in the heart of a spurned lover. Sometimes, the budding beech was substituted with less welcome bouquets of thorns, stinging nettles or brambles. Some offerings were laden with mean-spirited symbolism: cauliflowers for the jealous woman; cabbages for the greedy; laurel for the lazy; apple for the drunk; the fir for the wicked and broom for the promiscuous. Given our capacity for cruelty under the cloak of anonymity, we can but wonder what other objects might have been left for the young lady whose only injury might have been to refuse someone a final dance at a church fête.

May Day Superstitions

It has been recorded that, at times, middle-aged spinsters and widows who had re-married with what the community considered unseemly haste were often targeted in a form of communal condemnation. Those ladies who found themselves ill-served, naturally tried to make neighbours believe that there had been a substitution and it was not unknown for people to stay-up late to be sure that no prankster replaced a beech with a bramble. Eligible women who, for whatever reason, had not received a May branch were the object of as much gossip and speculation as those who had woken-up to a bundle of nettles. Given the anxiety that the eve of May Day might have brought to some households, it is perhaps not too surprising that the custom eventually died away.

The notion of renewal and new growth gave rise to several superstitious rituals to celebrate and encourage fertility and drive away opposing forces. On the eve of May Day, it was customary to place a little salt in the four corners of the pastures in order to protect the cattle from evil spells over the year ahead. Similarly, to preserve the health of cows, their udders were rubbed with the morning dew of May Day. Indeed, cattle were traditionally taken out of the stable earlier than usual on this day to allow them to graze the May Day dew.

May Day Superstitions

Great virtues were once attributed to the dew that formed on May Day; young girls here traditionally rubbed their faces with it, in expectation of securing a fresh complexion and protection against all manner of skin diseases. An indication of the ancient traditions that held this month was a period full of mystic potential seemed to have survived into fairly recent times with the popular belief that May Day rain – not a particularly rare event here – was especially harmful to the bounty of fruit trees.

To be continued ….


Published by Bon Repos Gites

Enjoying life in Kalon Breizh - the Heart of Brittany.

165 thoughts on “Some Customs of May Day

  1. My parents got engaged on May 1. I counted back and saw that I was very likely conceived on May 1, 1951. My guess is they went out for dinner and dancing and then… I remember making and leaving May baskets as a kid.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting!! Did they consider themselves superstitious? Even if they (or you) did not, clearly there was some idea at the back of their minds that May Day was an auspicious day! 🙂
      Same is certainly true for May Baskets! 😉 Was that fairly widespread in our community? Did they do it in the next town over too? 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

      1. May Day was just a romantic day. Back then (WW2) there was even a pop song about May 1. I lived in Denver as a little kid. We made May baskets in school out of colored paper. I don’t think anyone was really superstitious, it was just sweet and fun.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. It’s funny but I was thinking later after I responded to your comment, of something I used to tell my international students who came from European countries. They would say, “America doesn’t have any history.” I would answer, “Oh, we do, the same history you have.”

        They never understood that I meant that literally. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Haha that it a great response and a shame that they could not appreciate that we all, to one extent or another, carry our historical baggage with us. Just imagine the first person who hung an old horseshoe against their barn over there – so many of those who saw it would have understood its significance without question.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I was alerted to my Swiss ancestry when I had Applermacaroni in Appenzell. My grandmother made it exactly the same way. She didn’t even know her ancestry, but there it was. A few other dishes, too. Then, years later, I found them. The other weird thing about THAT is some of the Swiss good luck symbols are Irish. The patron saint of Switzerland is an Irishman…,

        Liked by 3 people

  2. 🏵it is also la Fête du Muguet, when sprigs of muguet or Lily of the Valley are presented to loved ones🏵

    This is such a beautiful practice or tradition

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🏵Not known for his sensitive side, the young King was so charmed by this gesture that, on the following first of May, he presented a sprig of this flower to all the ladies at his court. 🏵

      Oh my word, this is such a lovely beginning to start a new tradition

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🏵The month of May has therefore long represented one of the pivotal stages in the life of agrarian society in Europe; it heralded the arrival of summer, the renewal of nature and the beginning of the heavy agricultural work upon which the people so depended.🏵

        Oh Ye
        Flowers grow in the month of May
        And hard work I daresay.

        It’s different with us,
        The sun may shine, it’s cold outside
        When we got the month of May.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. 🏵While this might sound rather endearing, we should not lose sight of the human element and the bitterness occasionally found in the heart of a spurned lover. Sometimes, the budding beech was substituted with less welcome bouquets of thorns, stinging nettles or brambles.🏵

        Oh DEAR!!! dear dear

        Liked by 2 people

      3. 🏵Eligible women who, for whatever reason, had not received a May branch were the object of as much gossip and speculation as those who had woken-up to a bundle of nettles🏵

        Oh my goodness, these gossipers, glancers and speculators
        Participation is the cornerstone of community spirit …lol

        Liked by 2 people

      4. 🏵Great virtues were once attributed to the dew that formed on May Day; young girls here traditionally rubbed their faces with it, in expectation of securing a fresh complexion and protection against all manner of skin diseases.🏵

        Oh I can well believe
        I too love visiting the garden while the dew is still on the roses with the first rays of sun kissing my skin. I feel young.

        So lovely a read at the close of the day.
        Till next time
        Goodnight and sleep well.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. It does sound mean-spirited, even spiteful, but I suppose there is, now just as then, a certain horrible streak within humanity that behaves that way when they can hide under the cloak of anonymity. 😦

        You can just imagine, parents and family members staying awake to make sure that whatever offerings were left for their daughter/sister were unlikely to cause tears!

        Liked by 3 people

  3. You always post beautiful images. That last one is exquisite and the first could be a photograph. I am very glad that I never needed to worry about messages being left on the even of May Day. One could become quite neurotic! Our species will always have superstitions concerning the seasons, be they those we know or the monsoons in the tropics. I think we need to pay more attention to them, myself by showing respect for the planet. Look forward to the next episode.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks! I try, as far as possible, to use Breton-related artwork and am fortunate that there is a goodly amount out there in the public domain! 😉

      Agreed! I imagine that for every happy girl on May Day, there was likely one crying her heart out 😦

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Holly!! I am pleased that you liked it! 🙂 🙏
      As you rightly say, at heart it is a lovely ritual but the opportunities it provided to the mean-spirited and jilted were all too real. 😔 I would not like to have been the parent of young girls in those days!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahhh spring. These traditions sound fairly innocuous. I think May softened many people’s hearts, so not a bad thing in spring. I, for one can’t wait for May Day to go out and roll in the morning dew and grab some branches. But, really, is any of this more strange than having winning the lottery as your retirement plan? Happy weekend. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, yes, you are right Allan 😉 Things maybe are not so very different nowadays. If I went rolling around in the grass on May Day, I’d likely get covered in mole hill dirt! 🙄

      Thanks for your good wishes and I wish the same to you and yours! 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Greetings. This is a well-written and well-researched article. On a related note, I posted a set of three articles on the history of May 1st which you might like to read, from the ancient Roman perspective, the Celtic perspective, and during Early Modern history. You can access them on my blog.


  6. In Germany we have the May trees, usually a more or less smallish birch, decorated with colourful ribbons or streamers instead of the May branches, but my grandmother told me that she knew of other trees to reprimand a girl for her behaviour.
    I grew up in the northern Rhine region with dances on Walpurgis Night (30. April) and slleping in the next day, now I live in Westphalia and they traditionally have the “Maigang”, groups of people load up a cart with lots of alcohol (usually beer) and wander about. The first time I encountered this tradition, I was coming home from the late shift at the hospital and there was this group of about 20 young men walking drunkenly all across a country lane. Not knowing what that was about I sounded the horn and instead of stepping to the side they surrounded the car and started rocking it. Quite the frightening experience as a woman alone on a back country road. And I’m sure not what the original tradition was about… Nowadays I make sure I work the early shift if I have to work on the first of May.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Fascinating!!! Thanks so much for sharing this! Walpurgis Night I know of but not Maigang – so, I shall look into that! 🤔 I think it remarkable how some of the old customs have survived in some places!! 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So excellent article ‘ Some Customs of May Day’ Old traditional story still we celebrating May Day 🌹🙏👍🏻
    May 1st is the Day for all working people in the world to make them happy one Day in a year and selected
    May 1st Day as well ♥️😊your story fantastic proud moments feel and so much truths can understand 👌👏
    So beautiful painting and inspiring photography 🤩thank you so much for sharing dear friend, God Bless 👏♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  8. आपके ब्लॉग को पढ़ कर अपने यहां को आपके देश/प्रांत से तुलना करने का मन हो आता है। हर जगह परम्परायें अभी भी हैं। भारत में तो सिंधु नदी सभ्यता काल से हैं।
    ऋतुओं का परिवर्तन त्यौहार और व्यवहार परिवर्तन को आपके यहां भी जन्म देता है और भारत में भी।
    आदमी आदमी में कोई बहुत अंतर नहीं है! प्रकृति भी साल में लगभग वैसे ही व्यवहार करती है।
    यहां अभी फसल कटी है और किसान के लिये आराम का समय है। फिर दो महीने बाद बारिश आयेगी और खेती होने लगेगी। उसके अपने त्यौहार होंगे।
    बहुत समानता है ब्रिटानी और भदोही में! अलग अलग महाद्वीपों में होते हुये भी! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. आप ठीक कह रहे हैं। ये सच है। जितना अधिक हम सतही से परे देखते हैं, उतना ही अधिक हम देखते हैं कि मानवता बहुत कुछ साझा करती है। हमारे पास विभाजित करने से कहीं अधिक समानताएं हैं और हमें यह याद रखना चाहिए। 🙏🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  9. It amazes me how you never lack for information, enlightenment, entertainment and beautiful graphics! Thank you for another lovely post!

    May Day (Workers’ Day, International Workers’ Day), is the day that commemorates the struggles and gains made by workers and the labour movement. It is observed in many countries on May 1. Here is the US we observe Worker’s Day on the first Monday of September. It is called Labor Day.

    PS – You should know that lately I cannot access your page by clicking my email notification. Doing so brings me to a page with a message indicating that there’s been an error and the site I’m trying to find does not exist (clearly not true). However, this morning while I was on that page with the error message, I noticed a short listing of your posts, including this one. I clicked on that and it brought me here; circuitous but serendipitous! I wonder if any other readers have the same problem and may have mentioned it to you? Let me add, I do not have this problem with any other blogger. 🤷🏼‍♀️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you!! I am happy that you enjoyed it! 🙂 In all honesty, I do not know how much more I can post, Certainly enough raw material into Autumn though! 🙏

      How strange! I had some problems accessing sites when I shifted to Jetpack but that was me. I did hear from two people that my site was coming up as password protected a week or so ago. I realise now that my site is not really set up as an easy browsing experience. It is ok via WP Reader but difficult otherwise now that there is over a hundred posts. 😔 One more item for the ‘to do’ list! 🙄

      Enjoy the weekend! 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed! I totally accept that things and attitudes change and perhaps it is the fact that these seem to have lasted for so long only to disappear within a short few generations ago.


  10. A very informative history of May Day celebrations.

    One of the scenes I remember from the movie Camelot (based on the musical about King Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot) was people dancing around a May Pole and the women wearing flowers 💐 in their hair and everyone singing “It’s May, it’s May, it’s the lusty month of May.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I am glad that you liked it! 🙏😊
      I do not recall much of that movie but can well imagine a scene of the maids of Camelot celebrating May Day! 😉 I do know that May Poles were far bigger than I imagined them to have been as I recall reading of ones that were traditionally between 25 and 35 feet high!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you, Colin, for this fascinating post about May Day celebrations. I remember my mother describing handmade paper May baskets of flowers being hung on doorknobs when she was young. My school used to have a very colorful Maypole. I think May Day celebrations will survive as long as there are spring flowers and as long as people plant seeds.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am pleased that you liked it!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing those memories!! 🤗 Was the custom of May Baskets still widespread when you were growing-up or had it died away? Good to hear that you still had Maypoles!!!
      I love your optimism and hope that you are right!! 🙏🙏

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to respond! 😊 I appreciate that as I am fascinated at how old rituals and superstitions changed or died away. I am also left feeling disappointed that the tradition died so relatively recently. Perhaps it is the fact that it was almost within grasp and I would not ‘feel’ the loss so keenly if it was, say, 250 years ago! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I was quite enamored about the May branch until I read further. How awful to receive a bramble or a cabbage! Many years ago, my friend and I bathed our faces in the dew on May Day. I guess it might have been an Irish tradition but I am not sure. You wouldn’t dare try that in Texas – your face would be covered in fire ant stings. 🐜🐜🐜

    Another great post!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You are right Kerry! The more I read accounts of life in ‘the good old days’, the more I realise that people are very much the same, then as now. I guess the folk that would be so horrible to some young lady on May Day eve are the same as those who post anonymous screen-shots or troll people today! 🙄

      A covering of ants does not sound a pleasant way to start the day! 😮 Did you bathe in the May dew as simply a joke or did the old folk of your area tell you that it was an auspicious thing to do? Was this in NE Scotland? Sorry for the questions and feel free to ignore – it is just that I am genuinely interested in the survival of old ways! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I guess your post proves that we were just as awful to each other before social media!!

        No, it was not a joke. It was in Glasgow and both our families were Irish. I remember my mum being delighted at our silly act – I think she may have done something similar back in the day. May Day in the North East of Scotland is decidedly more pagan among country folks than it was in the south. Perhaps it was all those stone circles or ancient memories of Pict and Norse ancestors?

        I may have mentioned this before but there was a incomplete stone circle in the field next to one of the houses we lived in. The recumbent stone was made entirely of white quartz. Entirely magical on a summer evening.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, it is a bit of a sad realisation, isn’t it? 🙄😔

        That is a great little insight, thank you!! I really do find it fascinating that such superstitions were still so strong not so very long ago!

        White quartz! That must have been quite a sight indeed! We have a few monuments formed with one or two quartz-rich stones but nothing – that I have yet to see – like yours!! I shall keep a careful look out!! 😊

        Liked by 2 people

  13. Very cool traditions 👏 I love your flowers to loved ones very much ❤️

    When I was a child, we had something called May Day… on May 1st … we would make paper baskets and fill with candy or trinkets and bring to neighbors homes and set in front of their doors…

    To say happy spring ❤️👏

    Interesting to make it romantic like that though lol … how big is your branch? 😮😮 that could get crazy

    I can totally see jealousy, hurt, competition and other similar human reactions to come from that? Like you mentioned 😮

    Obviously … over here in the USA- we no longer do May Day – you could get shot 🤨 so that’s a thing now 🤨

    Traditions can be changed by the social atmosphere 😮 as well as other factors … but wow crazy to think about how traditions sometimes fade away into time or go away 😮

    And sometimes, I wonder if the traditions, or what they believed so whole heartedly, falls within the realm of mind over matter? The power of thought? Prayer ?whatever ?

    Interesting to think of

    If you will it, will it be? Or at least make you feel positive or helps lol

    Haha and another cliff hanger 👏👏 nice one – did not see that coming lol

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is so true! The power of faith, of believing that whatever ritual you perform has meaning is very powerful indeed!

      Interesting that you also prepared May Baskets!! Do you know if your old neighbourhood maintain the custom or has it died away. What about in Cal – was it a thing when you first moved there?

      Ha, yup, I have read accounts where some folk awoke on May Day to find massive tree boughs outside! 🙄 But also sad accounts of mothers substituting brambles for beech before their daughters woke-up! We really are a funny species – capable of great kindnesses and yet mind-numbing meanness! 😔

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know my mother also did that as a child … and when I was growing up the neighborhood was kind and caring … I think was mostly the parents with their traditions and we just went along with it lol

        We had a good neighborhood and all the neighbors were close – was different time.

        That was in Florida

        I ask others if they have done that and they say no unless they are my mothers age lol

        It has not been done here in long time and I am not sure Cali did at all?? 😮

        Well if I ever got a branch … my dad would be all crazy and not let anyone near me lol

        And if I didn’t – my mother would have been one out making sure I did ❤️

        But yes – is the balance of human kind… can see great kindness – but then there is also great meanness like you say ☹️

        Do you guys still do the baskets?

        Out here in Cali – Cinco de Mayo is a huge thing – festivals and such

        That is to celebrate a Mexican/French fight 😮 back in 1862 – Franco-Mexican war

        California used to be Mexico lol – many states actually used to be Mexico 😮

        In 1848 became part of United States by a treaty and in 1850 California was designated as a state

        East coast customs are somewhat different than west coast customs 🤷‍♀️

        East Coast vs West coast is like whole other country lol – same but different lol … different timely influences

        Back east Cinco de Mayo is not really big other than in bars or something like that – similar to St Patrick’s day … on east coast that is huge thing – west coast only in bars

        I highly doubt any native Californian ever did May baskets lol … east coast yes, west coast probably not 🤷‍♀️😄😘

        Liked by 1 person

      2. A wonderful response, thank you!! 🙂 Haha, I can so see what you meant about how each of your parents would react to protect you!! 🤗🤗

        Interesting also that East coast/West coast split! 🤔

        No, no May Baskets here and no May Branches although my elderly neighbours remember them from their youth! The giving of sprigs of Lily of the Valley is definitely still ‘a thing’. I wonder how long it will survive!

        Hope you are having a good week! 😊🤗🙏

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Lol … yeah ❤️ they were protective

        Lol no one could come near me – but I would have branches lol

        Well east coast and west coast are approx 3,000 miles apart … Also boarder different countries and different immigrants

        Like California has high Mexican Spanish population

        But back there the Spanish influence would be Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba

        Also New England is near Canada – so we also have heavy French Canadian influence back there that California does not have same

        You have TONS of Irish back east lol ❤️ and Italians – Russians

        You have that in Cali – but not like New England

        So just different cultural differences, traditions and influences

        One place is warm ☀️ – the other cold 🥶

        One side started the country …

        The other put it on tv 📺 😉

        Also terrain, weather, everything is different

        So is like another world 🌎 yet the same lol

        North and South are also different 😄😄

        Well I hope your tradition never dies – that is very beautiful and nice thing to do! Let’s not lose that ❤️✌️

        Keep the Lily’s Alive!! Totally!! I will have to adopt this tradition – thank you for sharing ✌️❤️

        Yes actually 😮 – I am having a good week..

        Is SOOOO much work – but is good!

        And we getting help. And we fricken rock it as a team right now!

        I have funny stuff from today I will post maybe shortly?? 🙏 otherwise that means I fell asleep lol ✌️

        But is good – we laugh and joke and smile – to balance … so nice atmosphere as coworkers …

        And then we seriously working and handling many things all together with a rhythm, strength, teamwork and seriousness.

        So … yeah … good week – on way to owning it 👏👏✌️😄

        Surprisingly said on a Tuesday lol … I still have a long way til Friday – but is not bad now

        Hope your week is good too!! 🙏😘✌️

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That all makes sense! It is easy to forget just how vast the USA is! 😉

        All good here, thanks. 🙏 I am happy to hear that things are settling in well with the new team!! 🙂 🙏 Hope you have a great week!! 😊🤗

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Yes, very vast and whatever you wanna experience – that’s just the continental United States lol … we also have Alaska and Hawaii – also extremely different

        Yes has been so much better! Have a wonderful team now

        Thank you 😊🙏

        Have a great week too 😊👏

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Loved reading about these beautiful and unusual traditions, especially the one about the lilies. So different from the very serious and practical associations, generally linked with May day! Fascinating reading plus great illustrations. Thanks a lot.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Lovely post. I remember receiving the Lily of the Valley sprigs from the host family somewhere near Paris, when I visited them with a friend of mine for the long weekend of 1st of May one year! Here in Germany, where I live presently, I have seen May Poles (Mai Baum) at this time. As far as I know, that also is a very old tradition. Is it not there in Brittany or you will write about it in your next post 😀?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I am pleased that you liked it! 🙏😊
      It is interesting that May Poles are in use in your part of Germany! Do you know whether it is a tradition continuously carried out since the Middle Ages or was it revived in very recent times?
      Sadly, despite the painting in this post, I can find no old accounts from Brittany that mention a May Pole but when I do, I will certainly update this post! 😉 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s not just in my part of Germany, it’s all over Germany! I read somewhere that it could be a tradition from pre-Christian times – end of Winter celebration may be. I know of it also as a tradition from non-German Europe. So I am curious now that Brittany doesn’t have it 😀.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you! Yes, I believe that you are right and the arguments that Grimm and Frazier make seem sound to me. I knew that it was a custom in Germany and the UK but I will have to do some more digging to find out how widespread it once was in France!

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Was there ever a prettier picture than the girls in white. May Day – no picking of may blossom because it was bad luck and if it was taken into the house, it was thrown straight out. Dawn trip to watch the Morris Dancers bash staves with each other, followed by my brothers bashing each other with odd bits of wood. A lovely post, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a wonderful image isn’t it? 😊

      Dawn trip? Did they perform early or were they just far away? Can I also ask whether it was a display to entertain whoever was there or something put on for tourists?

      Many thanks for reading Gwen! 🙏 I am happy that you liked it! Hope that you have a good weekend! 😊😊


      1. It would have been about 6.oo I suppose when they came. Seemed like the crack of dawn! But they danced for whomever was there and danced even if there was no-one. We’ve had rain and rain which I don’t remember from when I was young! Hope your May Day celebrations have been happy.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wonderful!! Thank you for sharing that! My heart always lifts a little when I hear of genuine survivals of old folk customs into the modern era! 🙏😊
        Enjoy the new week!! 🤞🤞


  17. I think you and I have discussed before about the placing of branches outside the home, here in Insular Britain. I forget which trees were used, but each had their own individual meaning. And yes some of them could be quite cruel. I had never considered this might have caused anxiety and worry for young women, but now you mentioned it, it must have.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have 😉 and I still think it must have been a fairly widespread practice across northern Europe; it is just that pockets survived – to one degree or another – in some places, longer than others.
      Ha, yes, we cannot forget the human element in all these rituals; for good or for ill. 😔
      Enjoy what remains of the weekend! 😊🙏

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: