The quintessential eccentricity of the British is never more marvellously illustrated than in what happens on May Day
Now that spring has sprung, my thoughts are turning to May Day, and those traditions that herald the first official Day of summer, with Celebrations that take place up and down Britian. These can be described as varied, interesting, but in all honesty, eccentric is probably the most accurate description. These celebrations are steeped in tradition, rituals that connect us to the past, but their essence is a celebration, a giving thanks for what we often take for granted, giving us a precious gift of future tradition to be continued. The weather is not always perfect though, just as Sean and Mary Kate expereinced after their initial stroll.
One of the oldest surviving May Day customs happens in Padstow, believed to be a ancient fertility rite marking the coming of Summer
Last year, we were lucky enough to witness first hand the Obby Oz! This gorgeous little Cornish fishing village is decorated with bunting, greenery and beautiful flowers swathed over the buildings. The joy of the occasion is infectious, the drums beating, the chorus being sung, and what seems like the whole village following the Oz throughout the streets.
Welsh May Day traditions
It would be remiss of me not to mention the Welsh May Day tradition of Carlon Mai. To quote Hilaire Wood’s excellent article;
“The celebrations always began the evening before, May Eve being one of the ysprydnos or ‘spirit nights’ when all sorts of spirits and supernatural forces were abroad, and divination— usually with the aim of discovering who one’s sweetheart would be—was carried out.”A picnic is the perfect May Day event to celebrate the start of summer
Although meant to be the start of summer, the weather can be unpredictable, the wonderful thing is that this just makes it all the better, a sort of triumph over adversity, the weather verses mere mortals. The fresh air, sense of freedom and adventure, takes you outside the everyday, even if you are just sitting at the bottom of your garden, or in a near by park.
The essence of a picnic is that it feels like an outdoors treat!
May Day Picnics are about carrying armfuls of chairs and blankets to your favourite spot, it’s afternoon tea outdoors. The ritual of setting up camp -I’ll be taking one of my favourite Welsh blankets to keep me warm. And of course, picnic baskets filled to the brim with all good things, favourite food to savour. I love eating outdoors, because somehow food just tastes so much better! Flasks filled with boiling hot water to make tea – and it goes without saying that you’ll be taking your tea pot and tea leaves. Sipping one slow sip at a time is such bliss.
May Day is restful, revitalising, allowing a magical connection with the start of summer.
The start of summer is fleeting but fabulous. You start to anticipate warmth of the sun, feel the breeze, stare into space while pretending to look at the vista. Tea with Mary Kate urges you to celebrate the start of summer, and have a marvellous May Day, where generations continue to nurture some very special May Day traditions. Create your own Picnic, rain or shine!