Next Monday the 5th May is the annual holiday May Day, and a bank holiday. Surprisingly enough, May Day is not just a tradition celebrated in the UK, but it has a different level of significance in a number of countries across the modern world. Whether you are planning a road trip across the USA, or you are looking for help hiring a taxi in Romania, Penguin can help you with a huge directory of hired cars available, all at your fingertips!
Associated with towns and villages celebrating springtime and fertility, May Day in England is often accompanied by Morris Dancers and with the traditional cross cultural maypole, where dancers will circle it with ribbons attached to the maypole.
May Day was once abolished by puritan parliaments but was reinstated by Charles II in 1660. In 2011 the UK Parliament attempted to replace May Day with a bank holiday in October known as ‘United Kingdom Day’ but this decision was overruled.
Ireland has celebrated May Day since pagan times, when it was known as Bealtaine. Originally the Irish would light giant bonfires in order to welcome the coming of summer and to scare away the darkness and cold, long nights of the winter months. Although to this day larger cities do not partake in May Day Bonfires, smaller rural areas will still light a bonfire for good luck.
May Day in Romania is commonly associated with the celebration of the beginning of summer. People would have parties where they would roast lamb and drink red wine to refresh the blood and symbolise protection from a bad harvest and diseases. People may wash their faces with morning dew for good health and you might also see birch saplings or green branches tied around house fates for good luck.
In the evenings it was traditional for both men and women to not do any work in the house or out on the farms, as well as the animals, so as to avoid bad luck. It was thought that if anyone worked during May Day eve, they could die or the animals could fall ill.
May Day is similar to a miniature Valentine ’s Day, as traditionally a maypole was delivered to the house of a girl the night before may day, covered in coloured streamers.
The maypole is normally from a love interest, although if the pole was covered in white streamers it was considered a sign of dislike for the girl. Girls would place roses or rice in the shape of a heart at the doorstep of their loved one. On leap years, females would place the maypole on May Day.