It's hard to believe that May is nearly upon us. At first light carry on the age old tradition of bathing in May morning's first dew to keep your complexion, gather may blossom (if you can find it ! we are still with blackthorn in bloom and only first leaves on our Hawthorn) adorn your gateposts, your doorway and make garlands, be the first to drink water from the well to guarantee a healthy and prosperous year or perhaps light two Beltane fires and drive your livestock between them as you take them to higher grazing or ....... the thing about Mayday is there is so much to do on the day and little else throughout the month. Although the first day of May has been somewhat downgraded and it is now the first weekend of May and the following bank holiday Monday when many a Maypole will be danced around, a May Queen crowned and battles between the Greenman and Old Frosty ensue.
Oxford has not relinquished the importance of May 1st as on May morning a traditional celebration of the coming of Spring takes place and brings together Oxford's communities to enjoy dancing, singing and revelry from around the city.
The celebrations start at 6am with the choristers of Magdalen College choir singing Hymnus Eucharisticus from the Great Tower. Hymnus Eucharisticus was composed in the 17th century by a Fellow of Magdalen and has been sung every year from the Great Tower on May Morning. This is followed by the bells ringing out over the city for approximately 20 minutes and Morris dancing and great mirth.
Padstow celebrates the day with an age old tradition of the Obby Oss celebrations which involves a unique custom of the Red Obby Oss and the Blue Obby Oss dancing round and through the streets of the town followed by a crowd of supporters.
As for us at Talking Trees we will be taking an early morning walk through our local bluebell wood and walk to the upland area where our own special clootie tree stands on the banks of the source of Holywell brook. We will add another ribbon and give thanks for another May morn. Looking at the weather forecast we may need brollies! We usually round up the day with a 'goodly' fire and a small feast giving libation to mother earth as we finish.
Do try and mark this most special of days in your own way or by following an old custom or being part of a communal celebration. In the times of only two seasons it marked the beginning of summer and was a farewell to winter - if only the weather would take note of this !