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May-Day-art - 4/12/08


"May Anniversaries and Festivals" by THL Johnnae llyn Lewis.


NOTE: See also the files: calendars-msg, Halloween-art, Halloween-lnks, Holiday-Celeb-lnks, holidays-msg, Jewsh-Holiday-art, Spring-Celeb-lnks, saints-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



This article was published in The Citadel in the April/May 2006 issue and The Pale May 2006.


May Anniversaries and Festivals

by THL Johnnae llyn Lewis


        Way back in May 1966, a group of friends in California gathered for a spring party and just to make the occasion memorable, a theme was chosen. All were asked to dress and act like medieval lords and ladies. From such simple beginnings, the Society for Creative Anachronism was born. The Society or SCA is now an international organization that stretches around the globe with over 30,000 members. This is the Fortieth or Ruby Anniversary of the Society's founding.


        Those wanting to learn more about the beginnings of the Society might like to browse these online sites:


        It all began in the West Kingdom so turning to their historical website is helpful. http://history.westkingdom.org/  The origins of the SCA are explored here: http://history.westkingdom.org/Year0/index.htm Year One [May 1966 - April 1967] is recounted here: http://history.westkingdom.org/Year1/index.htm


        Googling the SCA to learn about it's history yields hundreds of thousands of hits. Stefan's Florilegium << http://www.florilegium.org/ >> helpfully indexes and presents a number of articles. Among the most interesting are the files contained in SCA Stories.


        The SCA.org pages include this short summary of the organization's origins: http://www.sca.org/sca-intro.html  Wikipedia's entry on the Society may be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_for_Creative_Anachronism The history section:



        This will be the Ruby Anniversary of the founding. Quick sources for material on wedding anniversaries and gifts: http://www.chipublib.org/008subject/005genref/giswedding.html



May Day


        May Day customs and folklore are uniquely tied to the founding of the Society. A quick run-down of May day customs begins with May begins with May Eve which is April 30th. This night is associated with witches flying and fairies trooping. Possibly at midnight the Queen of May herself appears. Wild men clothed in green leaves (Green Men before they were called such) might appear. It was a night of divination and magic. "Bringing in the May" or "going a maying" is obscure in origin, but long practiced. There are mentions back to the 13th century. Milkmaids went forth to gather the May Dew and wash their faces in it. Other cherished customs include May birching (placing boughs of greenery on houses or doors), and gathering flowers for May garlands. There are also the traditions of dancers performing as May Hobby Horses or May Morris Dancing and there's  May Singing which originated in Tudor times. May horns are blown. May Queens selected. There are decorated May dolls or Lady of May dolls. Maypoles are decorated and danced around. In England, King Henry VIII and Queen Catherine in 1515 went a-maying from Greenwich and celebrated May Day with Robin the Hood. The Puritans starting in the 16th century began a concerted campaign to destroy May Day and its customs of "gadding over night to the woods, groves, hils, & Mountains, where they spend all the night in plesant pastimes." This was according to Stubbes in 1583.  Obviously such activities had to be stopped. The Victorians attempted to bring it all back and even create some things like 'Jack-in-the-Green' along the way.


Holloway, Johnna. "Calendar Customs: May." The Pale. May 2005.


Hole, Christina. A Dictionary of British Folk Customs. 1976. London: Paladin, 1984.


Simpson, J. & S. Roud.  A Dictionary of English Folklore. Oxford: OUP, 2000.


Copyright 2007 by Johnna H. Holloway. <Johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org