Monday, 4 May 2009

May Day .. tradition and overseas .. 4 of 4

Dear Mr Postman .. thank you for coming on our monday May Bank holiday .. we are so grateful for all who are working with us to make my mother's life happier in her last days .. and your delivery definitely does just that ...

Imagine a world 400 years ago where children were used as chimney sweeps. The pay was low, it was a dirty trade and there was little reward for the men who did the job and even less for children. (see my post: Straw mattresses, sooty chimneys's Spring officially!)

Medway Council website states: Medway’s annual Sweeps Festival recreates the joy and laughter enjoyed by the chimney sweeps at their traditional holiday, 1st May: the one time of the year the sweeps could leave the soot behind and have some fun.

Their fun continued with the Jack-in-the-Green ceremony, a seven-foot character that they used to waken at dawn on Blue Bell Hill, Chatham. The Jack-in-the-Green would walk with the chimney sweeps in their parade. When the Climbing Boys’ Act 1868 made it illegal to employ young boys to carry out the trade, the traditional procession gradually began to fade. The final May celebration was held in the early 1900s.

The modern day Rochester Sweeps Festival is a colourful mix of music, dancing and entertainment with more than 60 Morris sides and entertainers celebrating throughout the three-day festival.

Morris Dancing has recently been revived (even with a cult film! - see below) and become a regular part of summer fetes and fairs. This description from seemed to me to describe Morris Dancing quite well .. and see the photo above of Morris Dancing in Hailsham one of our local Sussex towns. Every May Day, outside the village pubs of England, strangely clad people can be seen leaping into the air, waving handkerchiefs and sticks, with bells jingling from their clothing. This traditional ritual to welcome the return of spring is called morris dancing, and it goes back at least to the 15th century.

Jon Swaine from the The Telegraph Newspaper wrote about a new film on Morris dancing, described as "The Full Monty with bells on", which has become a cult hit after struggling to secure a release in cinemas.

May Day traditions around the world continue .. Morris Dancing occurs in the States, Canada (New Westminster, British Columbia had its first May Day in 1870 .. the May Queen picture shown is circa 1877!!), Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Hastings, also in Sussex, has it's Maydayrun for motorbikes - become a tradition! Cornwall has its Celtic traditions, including the Flower Boat Ritual; May baskets full of flowers are left on doorsteps in the States, Hawaii celebrates May Day as Lei Day, first proposed in 1927, .. to celebrate island culture in general and native Hawaiin culture in particular. Japan too has its Golden Week .. a 5 day holiday time ..

Since 1561 King Charles IX of France received a lily of the valley as a lucky charm .. subsequently each year he offered a lily of the valley to each lady of the court - a similar tradition continues today. The May fairs .. were for showmen, bakers with new treats - gingerbread men, puppets .. as carried on in the May Day Parade in Minneapolis by the Puppet Company, mentioned in my post: Month of Three Milkings ...

The May weekend .. is a time of joy, fun, the start of summer and the sun from early in the morning if we're lucky! It's a good time ..

Thank you for coming today .. my mother is in need of her daily dose of interesting story .. she does love to be entertained with stimulating thoughts .. not too much with her stroked brain .. but she's still so aware .. loves to smile and laugh, and appreciates all that is done for her .. and your deliveries are much appreciated ..

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters


Peter Baca said...


Thank you for enlightening us on the May Day celebrations around the world! I was surprised that England has so many different celebrations!

Best Regards

Pete Baca
The Car Enthusiast Online

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Pete .. we do .. and obviously they've all gone with the populace as it crosses lands, seas and now oceans ..

All the best -
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Believe Achieve - Hugo and Roxanne said...

Hi Hilary!

I love the month of May!
Of course, sort of partial, since my birthday is also this month. LOL :-)

Enjoyed learning about all the May traditions around the world! Hope you and Ma have a wonderful month!

Many Blessings....
Roxanne ~ Believe Achieve

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Roxanne .. it is a lovely month .. and if it's your birthday too .. lucky girl - warm days.

Thanks - glad you learnt a little about traditiosn around the world. Mum and I are ok .. waiting for a I hope final decision today.

When ever it is happy birthday .. have a lovely day and enjoy the time with the family!!
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters