The Everyday Lore Project

1 May 2020 – May Day

1 May 2020 – May Day

Today I made a wicker man then burnt him. The original plan had been to get up just before the dawn, skip down to the nearest field and then wash my face in dew, it being May Day and all. However, after a short night’s sleep, including a dream about dining with the Queen, I ignored two alarms and rolled back over. Which then meant a hasty scramble for Plan B. Plus I forgot to say White Rabbits.

We’re garlanded in folklore at the moment, so for once it wasn’t difficult to find something else to do. But I went for a wicker man, rather than baking nipple cakes, ritual sacrifice, or having unprotected sex on the Cerne Abbas Giant’s 20ft wang, because I had been thinking of driving out to Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire to watch a proper wicker man fire festival, if for any reason Edinburgh hadn’t worked out. And then neither worked out, and although Butser is holding a virtual Beltain ceremony tomorrow (details below in Resources), I now have a virtual date with Space 1999 and my awesome sci-fi geek friends

I must admit, making it was a rather hurried affair as I’d spent quite a bit of time planning the month then writing up May’s #FolkloreFOMO post. So after gulping down some tea, I embarked on my second make in as many days. This time I was using a toilet roll, a bread tin, raffia, a bit of string, some lolly sticks, plant supports, my glue gun, a couple of the leftover firelighters from the philosopher’s stone, and a pair of googly eyes. 

It was a total busk using the 1973 film starring Edward Woodward as rough inspiration. Hence the googly eyes. Although to be fair, the eyes were more Nicholas Cage in the 2006 remake. After knocking him up, I felt a bit guilty about torching him, but nevertheless I went outside and did just that. I hadn’t intended to set light to his crutch though, it just happened that way.

My phone ran out of memory half way through so I went back to pictures.

And after a while I remembered just how long the firelighters took to burn out and unceremoniously threw a jug of water over the remains. Well, It was getting late and my first alarm had gone off at 4.45am. Once everything had cooled down, I returned to rescue the tin. It’s now in my kitchen and I’m wondering whether I should sieve the scraps for some sort of CSI: Wicker Man, or dry them out for posterity. I’ll sleep on it (not literally) and decide tomorrow. It’s always a joy to indulge my inner-pyro, I just wish I’d reinforced his supports so he stayed up for a bit longer.

I also rescued my maypole this morning. Much to my delight, the fairies hadn’t trashed the joint, even kindly tidying away the ribbons…


Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books

And if you haven’t seen this, do, it’s hilarious…

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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