May Superstitions

THE MONTH OF MAY is an important time for many cultures throughout the world, but especially so in Ireland, where we have created many customs and traditions surrounding the month. Some of these customs have long since died out but some may still be practiced around the country.

Below is a list of just some of the traditions and superstitions to do with the month of May.

How many do you know?

> 1st May is the first Day of Summer

> Once it was the most important day in the Irish countryman’s calendar. This was when his tenancy began or ended and on which a half years rent must be paid to his landlord.

> Hiring Fairs were held on this day. People seeking work would come with symbols of their skill or trade. Bargains were struck between employer & employee.

> Signs of the weather were taken as an indication of the coming summer weather. Cold east wind was a bad sign & frost meant hard times to come. “A wet May & a dry June make the farmer whistle a merry tune”.

> This was the time to put your cattle to pasture. It was said to have hay still left over on May 1st was a sign of good husbandry and a matter of pride for the farmer. All the tilling of the soil should be finished and turf cutting began.

> May bushes were decorated with blue and white flowers and according to some, set in mud, placed outside of the house and would have stood there until the 10th of May. A May Lady was a figure of a woman made out of straw dressed with ribbons. A married couple would dance around her and entertain the crowd with indecent shows & exhibitions. Women who had no children also attended and watched in the hope that it would promote fertility.

> It was considered unlucky to do many things on May Day including washing, painting and sailing.


(Millmount Museum, Drogheda, Co. Louth, Facebook page)


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