I’ve been up north in Lancashire for a few days – nice to see that the may blossom is out pretty much everywhere on the hawthorn hedges and trees, not just in the south.
Hawthorn is derived from the Old English haga-thorn, meaning hedge-thorn, which shows how long it has been in use as a hedging plant. A lot of magical qualities are ascribed to it, including being a home for the fairies.
It is also known as the May Tree, because the blossom traditionally appeared in late April/early May (spring has been coming a little earlier lately). The blossom was collected for the May Day or Beltane festivals, for decoration, to celebrate new life, and for rituals such as the May Queen and Green May.
The government is currently trying to scrap the May Day bank holiday. It’s worth bearing in mind that this holiday goes back much further than its recent role as a workers’ day(which is presumably why it riles the Tories) to ancient times when it was a celebration of spring in all its glory. If they do take the bank holiday away I think we should respond with a mass skive on future May Days.