Pinch punch, first day of the month and no returns! Although technically, seeing as it’s after midday, I think that means I’ve just earned myself a dead arm. Must look that one up… It’s May! And I’m still going. Nobody is as surprised as me to find that four months in, I’m still flirting with folklore. April was hard with so many cancelled events, plus I was forced to use one of my three emergency standbys. Although this did mean I had to up my interpretation skills game, so swings and roundabouts. And as it looks like there’s going to be little change in our immediate future, I’m going to need your help more than ever this month.
So, May. While April seemed to be all about the food, May looks to be a month of sensations, from the rather fruity proposition that it’s really bad luck to wash your bedding, or as the saying goes:
You must not wash your blankets in May
Or else you’ll wash your soul away
To being chased with stinging nettles for misdemeanours various throughout the month, not to mention Pinch Bum day, the smell of May honeysuckle inspiring impure dreams in young ladies, and nipple cakes. Mind you, Beltane is all about harnessing the earth’s sexual energy, which could explain the slightly charged atmosphere. Or that could just be the lockdown. Either way, today is traditionally the day for childless couples to, ahem, ride the Cerne Abbas Giant to avail themselves of his potency. With his appendage standing at 20 feet long, there’s plenty room for social distancing.
And what’s happening with you and your May traditions? What do you get up to this month? Do you decorate your ram with roses? Do you plant your kidney beans on Old May Eve? Or have you found new traditions due to current circumstances? I myself am particularly partial to singing the first two verses of All Together Now by The Beatles while I wash my hands. Have you had to give anything up? Were you a beater of the bounds at Rogationtide but are now stuck pacing round the limits of your own home? Let me know what you’re up to and if I can share your folklore. I’m learning to live with my #FolkloreFOMO, but I still get the odd twitch, so all suggestions welcome.
So here’s this month’s lifting of the petticoat (another #MeToo tradition from 3 May…)
10 May – Playing keepy uppy with a spot of shuttlecock divination
21 May – Attempting access to my attic to hang an egg to protect the house from evil spirits
31 May – Fingers crossed, harvesting the spuds for a Whitsunday lunch
Let me know your thoughts in the comments. You can also follow and tweet me @lilithepunk and through the hashtags #EverydayLore and #FolkloreFOMO on Twitter, and if you want to keep up to date with a daily dose of this nonsense, scroll down and subscribe to my blog. Have a lovely and safe May!
Right, I’m off to make then burn a wicker man…
Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Day, B. (1998) A Chronicle of Folk Customs, London, Hamlyn
Forest, D. (2016) The Magical Year, Seasonal Celebrations To Honour Nature’s Ever-Turning Wheel, London, Watkins
Jones, J. and Deer, B. (1987) Cattern Cakes and Lace, London, Dorling Kindersley Limited
Leendertz, L. (2019) The Almanac, A Seasonal Guide to 2020, London, Mitchell Beazley
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