8 Annotations

First Reading

vincent  •  Link

"May Day" has an interesting History, Pagans celebrated it as a day of romp, then Early Christians tried it to get some pomp,then it was banned by a Puritan Parliament for being too Merry then there it was kind of lossed then The Labo(U)r Movement used this day as a rallying cry, now it stumbles along with no real Authoritative backer. In the background the powerless are reigniting this day.
The London Trade Council founded in 1860 used this day for organising the "the Work Force"
Their History is here for the latest version of may celebrations:-
it evolved from " fun of spring when the sap has risen"
The Puritan Parliament banned May day
present links to Origins and Traditions / from pagan origins to labor movement then to
Pagan & Wiccan Traditions of May Day and other facinating sites

vincent  •  Link

Mayday an opinion"...& on Mayday,the greate Procession of the Universitie, & the 'Mulatiers' at st. 'Antonies', & their seting up a foolish May-pole in the Capitol, very ridiculous:" May/ 1/ 1645: John Evelyn Diary

Susanna  •  Link

Mayday and Maypoles

The ancient pagan celebrations in Britain focused mostly on bonfires, which were used for ritual cleansing. The maypoles that the Puritans banned cannot be firmly dated in Britain to before the 14th century. Interestingly, the distribution of the May bonfires is only in 'Celtic' territory (Ireland and Scotland, principally), where the maypoles are found in English areas. They do not seem to be pagan in origin. The Puritans were against May Day on the grounds that its celebration was Papist, not founded in the Bible (also their objection to Christmas), and tended to lead to public rowdyness. Charles II would, like his predecessors Henry VIII and Elizabeth, enjoy celebrating the day. He would promenade with his courtiers through Hyde Park. Some ladies of the court would flash their breasts at the lookers-on. (Sounds like Mardi Gras in New Orleans!)

For more information on the history of celebration of May Day in Britain, I recommend Ronald Hutton's "The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain".

vincent  •  Link

" May pole, Strand " "....The butchers at the May Pole in the Strand rang a peal with their knives when they were going to sacrifice their rump.." Feb 11 diary

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

It was an established custom for all classes to go a-maying in Hyde Park. The practice was for a time discontinued during the Commonwealth, but about 1654 it was revived, to the disgust of the Puritans.
---Wheatley, 1899.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Halloween and May Day are 6 months apart. Pepys lived in "modern" London, but in the Highlands things were a bit different: they still lived in "old" Scotland.

The night of April 30 was Beltane -- and they had some ceremonies designed to protect the crops being sown to ensure a healthy harvest.
They also ate burned oatcakes, so pay attention and see if Pepys complains to his dinner being burned on the night before May Day:

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


  • May


  • Jun