May 1st

Here you see Hyacinth at the Fairy Market selling her 1st of May Freckle Away Dew!

May is named after the Greek goddess, Maia. The month is a time of great celebrations in the northern hemisphere. It is the time when flowers emerge and crops begin to sprout. The Anglo-Saxon name for May was Tri-Milchi, in recognition of the fact that with the lush new grass cows could be milked three times a day. It was first called May in about 1430. Before then it was called Maius, Mayes, or Mai.

For me the first of May meant one more opportunity to get rid of my freckles. My mother was British, born in Australia. Folklore, fairies and magical creatures were part of our everyday life. My mother's ancestors were redhead and freckle-faced. Me and a few of my siblings got the freckles, and every May 1st I was out washing my face with dew. Just like in the Victorian England old wive’s tale, wet your hands with morning dew, rub your freckles and recite, “Dew, Dew, do do, take my freckles away with you. Dew, Dew, thank you.”

The Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World published in 1903 offers a fascinating glimpse into early man's obsession with freckles and his desire to remove them. It says that freckles around the eyes means you'll drown to death! To lift this curse (and remove freckles), the author provides several options. You can wash in the dew before sunrise on the first of May.

In some parts of Britain, May 1st is called Garland Day.

The first of May is Garland Day

So please remember the garland.

We don't come here but once a year,

So please remember the garland.

Greenery was collected by primary school children to make garlands. In many English villages children would parade with garlands of flowers, sometimes fastened to sticks or in the shape of a cross, or fixed to hoops. This was done in the hope of collecting money. Sometimes this was known as May Dolling because often placed in the centre of the garland was a small doll.

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1 comment:

Kate in NJ said...

I hope it didn't nake your freckles go away..they look lovely.;-)

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