Outdoor er..um getting on well with people begins today!
As the saying goes, well something like that, let’s just accept the 1st of May is an ancient fertility festival shall we? It reaches back to Celtic times when it was celebrated as Beltane with large bonfires and this festival is still popular with the Pagan community. The Romans made sure things got even hotter by celebrating the month with orgies dedicated to Flora the goddess of flowers, re-growth and prostitutes.
By the Middle Ages things had calmed down slightly and people would go A-Maying; gathering flowers, greenery and branches of hawthorn blossom - that’s not all that went on under the cover of darkness, and such liaisons were known as ‘green wood marriages’ or ‘to wear a green gown’.
The Puritans and the 1st of May
Philip Stubbs a decidedly grumpy Puritan commented in 1517 that scarcely a third of the maidens who spent the night in the woods came back with their virtue still intact. Perhaps if someone had invited him along he might have been less bitter. Young maidens (if any still remained) would then wash their faces in May dew to preserve their complexions.