Wednesday, April 16, 2008

May Day......

One of the most beloved of all books about life in the Victorian English countryside was Flora Thompson's trilogy Lark Rise to Candleford, a precious legacy from a way of life now lost forever. Here are Ms Thompson's memories of May Day:

On the last morning of April, the children would come to school with bunches, baskets, arms and pinafores full of flowers – every blossom they could find in the fields and hedges or beg from parents and neighbors. On the previous Sunday some of the bigger boys would have walked six or eight miles to a distant wood where primroses grew. These, with violets from the hedgerows, cowslips from the meadows, and wallflowers, oxlips and sprays of pale red flowering currant from the cottage gardens formed the main supply. A sweetbriar hedge in the schoolmistress’s garden furnished unlimited greenery.

Piled on desks, table, and floor, this supply appeared inexhaustible, but the garland was large and as the work of dressing it proceeded, it became plain that the present stock would “hardly go nowhere,” as the children said. So, foraging parties were sent out, on to the Rectory, another to the Squire’s and others to outlying farm houses and cottages. All returned loaded, for even the most miserly and garden-proud gave liberally to the garland. In time the wooden frame was covered, even if there had to be solid greenery to fill up at the back, out of sight. Then, the Top-Knot consisting of a bunch of crown imperial, yellow and brown, was added to crown the whole and the fragrant bowery structure was sprinkled with water and set aside for the night.

On May Day the children would sing….

All hail gentle spring with thy sunshine and showers
And welcome the sweet buds
That burst in the bowers:
Again we rejoice as thy light step and free
Brings leaves to the woodland and flowers to the bee,
Bounding, bounding, bounding, bounding
Joyful and gay,
Light and airy, like a fairy,
Come away, come away.
Come see our new garland so green and so gay
‘Tis the first fruits of spring and the glory of May
Here are they cowslips and daisies and hyacinths blue,
Here are the buttercups bright and anemones, too

…….Flora Thompson, 1878 – 1947

Here’s one of my favorite May Day poems….

Oh, let’s leave a basket of flowers today
For the little old lady who lives down our way.
We’ll heap it with violets white and blue,
With Jack-in-the-pulpit and wildflowers, too.
We’ll make it of paper and line it with ferns
Then hide, and we’ll watch her surprise when s
he turns,
And opens her door and looks out to see
Who in the world, it could possibly be!

.......Virginia Scott Miner
What are your plans for May Day??

16 comments:

Katie said...

What a lovely post! I remember as a child leaving baskets of flowers on neighbors' doors, ringing or knocking and running away! We also made garlands of clover blossoms to hang on the doorknob. What fun. No special plans for me, can't do it on strangers' places here or I might meet up with a ferocious dog! I do think of the old tradition of May Day on the day though!

Sue said...

Oh, I love May Day. Your sweet post reminds me to start think of May basket recipients.
Hugs,
Sue

celestina marie said...

Hi Bertie, your post about May Day is just lovely. The graphics are wonderful and the poem is just delightful. I have no plans, but now you have inspired me to do something for a dear friend.
Smiles,
Celestina,
La Rea Rose

Cathy said...

Hi Bertie,

I missed your sale but am glad I stopped by your blog. I absolutely love the Victorian pictures of the little children.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Blessings
Cathy

Amy at Bunny Rose Cottage said...

This is such a beautiful post Bertie! I have always loved the concept of May Day. Though i have never put flowers on strangers doors! I was hoping to be able to do that with the group but it wasnt to be! I think I will still do something special though.

Thank you for the compliment on my latest box! yes, they are vintage flowers in the prettiest shades of pink :)

Have a beautiful weekend!
Amy

Kathy said...

What a great post, Bertie. Also, the graphics are just beautiful. Kathy@ Mimi's Garden

vickie said...

Beautiful post, Bertie. Growing up, my sister and I always loved May Day. We made little baskets, gathered flowers and placed them on door knobs in our neighborhood. We had such fun.

Sharon said...

Oh who could it be. I love that poem Bertie.

Stephanie said...

What a precious post!! I intend to "gift" a friend of mine anonymously, ring her doorbell, then run like heck!!!!

Big Hugs,
Stephanie
Angelic Accents

Miss Rhea said...

That is so interesting Bertie, you always have the neatest facts about things !! :) I love that second postcard, how sweet is she ?? :)

Irma's Rose Cottage said...

What a lovely May Day Poem. I had no plans, but after reading your post I think I will leave some flowers at my neighbors door.
Thanks for sharing.

Hugs:)

Irma

Joyce said...

Dear Bertie.... came in here because I was a bit worried about you, hoping you are ok, I miss your posts!

rosechicfriends said...

Bertie...just love this...and your sweet vintage pictures just touches the child in me! Lovely!

Blessings...Lorena

Ele at abitofpinkheaven said...

May Day Bertie~! Hope you received my box. I got mine yesterday...yippee!!!

Lynne Laura said...

I just jumped over from Shirl's Rose Cottage and I am so glad I did. Wonderful pictures of your trip down south...makes me want to leave MI and go down there.

Thank you for the lovely May Day post, I am so glad others remember May Day too! When I first started giving flowers and seeds to my neighbors they didn't know what it was about...now they are doing it!

Kindredly, Lynne Laura

celestina marie said...

Hi Bertie, just stopping back in wish you a very Happy Mother's Day!
big hugs, Celestina,
la rea rose