Traditional Dance and Music In Schools


Booking inquiries

Maypole orders

01727 831917     E-mail

Home Resources Workshops Events Contact

When the May Tree blossoms     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.

Hawthorn Folklore


Ne'er cast a clout Till May be out

Don't remove any clothing 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)

______________________________________________________________

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).

hawthorn Hawthorn tree

A useful book on May Traditions


May Day, the Coming of Spring

by Doc Rowe published by English Heritage and EFDSS £8.99