festivals and traditions

May Day

While May Day for us refers to the celebrations held on May 1st to commemorate labourers’  fights, and we call this day Labour Day, in many countries of northern Europe, especially Britain, the first day of the month of May is also a day of enjoyment known as May Day.

May Day is linked to ancient pagan rites of spring, which date back both to the Celtic fire festival, Beltane, held on 30th April, celebrating the coming of summer (its opposite is the festival of Samhain on 31st October, i.e., Halloween), and to the Roman festival of Flora, the goddess of fruit and flowers, which also marked the beginning of summer.

Flora - S. Botticelli

Traditional English celebrations on May Day are crowning a May Queen, dancing around a Maypole and Morris dancing.

Very famous festivals held in these days are

Rochester‘s annual Sweep Festival that celebrates the traditional holiday that chimney sweeps (=spazzacamini) used to have on 1st May because with the arrival of spring they could put away their tools and enjoy themselves

– the Jack-in-the-Green festival at Hastings

– the Clun Green Man festival with the performance of the battle between the Green Man and the Queen of Ice… guess who the winner is 😉

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