Human Flower Project
Thursday, April 29, 2010
May’s Lap of Lush-ery
Waverly Fitzgerald sings three Mayflowers and will strike a chord with every nymph and satyr.
Mai bowle, Germany’s spring drink, made with sweet woodruff
By Waverly Fitzgerald
February 14 has staked its claim on love and sexuality, but an older, far more ecologically erotic season comes now – May Day. In the Northern Hemisphere, buds are at the full. Sweaters come off and the sap is rising. For centuries May has been synonymous with flowers and all the ardor that comes with them.
In the third century, the Romans celebrated the Floralia for six days beginning on April 28. People put on their most colorful garments, decking themselves and their animals in flowers.
The first mention of May Day in England comes from around 1240 – with a note of disdain. The Bishop of Lincoln complains of priests who join the “games which they call the bringing-in of May.” Town records, literature and the accounts of courtly life refer to the custom of bringing green branches and flowers in from the woods to celebrate the beginning of summer.
Edmund Spenser writing in 1579 described the custom thus:
Youth’s folks now flocken in everywhere
To gather May baskets and smelling brere
And home they hasten the posts to dight
And all the Kirk pillars ere daylight,
With hawthorn buds and sweet eglantine,
And garlands of roses and sops in wine.