Merry month of May is the theme for this week’s #TudorTuesdays with Historic Houses.
May has long been a favoured month in England. For people today, it means Bank Holiday weekends, bluebells, blossom and lambs in the fields (not to mention tentatively dusting off the barbecue off and bringing the garden furniture back out).
But for people in the 1500s and those back in time even further than that, the Merry month of May was considered the first step towards summer, and the unequivocal end of the long, cold winter months.
In order to celebrate this, and to welcome in the better weather (and hopefully the abundance of crops to come) both wealthy and poor Tudors would mark May Day with much drinking, dancing and general merrymaking.
In fact, May Day was an especially important holiday for poor Tudors, as farm labourers would be given the day off to join in the festivities, which included May pole dancing, the choosing of a ‘May Queen’ from among local girls, musical processions, and mummers plays, which were plays put on by amateur local actors that often performed from door to door on holidays.
As well as the festivities, there were also a number of superstitions surrounding the Merry month of May, including the curious belief that a drop of May morning dew collected from a May blossom and rubbed on the face could banish freckles!
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of these May Day celebrations however, is the fact that they have been happening in England not just since Tudor times, but for over 2000 years, when May Day was known as Beltane and was one of the four seasonal Celtic festivals, alongside Samhain (the start of winter) Imbolc (the start of spring) and Lughnasadh (the start of the harvesting season).
All of which means that however you choose to spend the month of May, (and in particular, May 1st) you are in fact following in the ancient tradition of looking ahead to the summer. Although, as the old saying about dressing for warm weather too early goes, ‘don’t cast a clout until May is out.’
Hever Castle regularly holds May Day events, for a full list of 2021 events visit what’s on
And for more images of the stunning 125 acre grounds and events visit our pintrest board
If you enjoyed this item on the Merry month of May, why not discover more about Tudor Tuesdays.