About the May

About the May

Throughout the world on the first of May, people celebrate the coming of summer with dances and revelry to wake up the earth from its slumber and induce it to fertility by singing and dancing, waving ribbons and hankies, carrying of wands or garlands of green and ringing of bells. Help us kill off old man winter for the season and induce fertility in the crops and livestock with such revelry as will occur. Open your minds and hearts to the magic of the May revels.

How to Participate in a May day Parade

Clothing worn in the procession is new or brightly colored to indicate the changing of the year. Men are encouraged to wear bright ribbons tied at the elbows or wrists of their shirts or as baldrics, and hats should also be decorated with greenery or flowers. Women wear gay dresses and bedeck themselves with garlands of flowers. All carry wands, garlands, globes of greenery or may bunches, or wear crowns of greenery or flowers. In Cornwall, on May 1, all who didn’t “wear the May” were doused with water carried in a bullocks horn by village youths. Offenders could buy their way out of a soaking as the boys cried “Ha’penny or a penny or a good wet back!”

Traditional costumes of Jack in the Green, Lord and Lady of May, characters from Shakespeare, fools, Betties (men dressed as women), tree spirits, hobby horses or mythical characters are strongly encouraged.

Banners, floats, wagons and other non-motorized celebratory vehicles welcome!

For information or to participate in the Shepherdstown May Celebration call 304.263.2531. You may also email updf@earthlink.net


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