The Merrie Month of May

Jolly rumbelow
We were up
Long before the day-o,
To welcome in the summer,
To welcome in the May-o!
Summer is a comin’ in
And winter’s gone away-o!


Rough winds do shake
The darling buds of May


May probably takes its name from Maia, a Roman goddess of growth. The Welsh word is Mai. The Irish-Gaelic name for the month is Bealtaine. The festival Beltane takes place on 1st May.

The Anglo-Saxons named it Tri-Milchi, because cattle feeding on the rich pastures could be milked three times a day. The Gauls called it Mios Bochuin – the month of swelling.

May brings with her the beauty and fragrance of hawthorn blossoms and the song of the nightingale. Our old poets delighted in describing her as a beautiful maiden, clothed in sunshine, and scattering flowers on the earth, while she danced to the music of birds and brooks.

She has given a rich greenness to the young corn, and the grass is now tall enough for the flowers to play at hide-and-seek as they are chased by the wind. The grass also gives a softness to the dazzling white of the daisies and the glittering gold of the buttercups.


Here are some popular rhymes and sayings for May:

A hot May makes a fat churchyard

The haddocks are good
When dipped in May flood

Many thunderstorms in May
And the farmer sings ‘hey, hey!’

“Keep buttoned to the chin ’till May be out.”

Shear your sheep in May
And shear them all away.

Married when bees over May-blossom flit,
Strangers around your board will sit.

A warm and dapple May,
The barns are full of hay.

“Cold May
Long corn, short hay.”

Cast not a clout
‘Till May is out.

Marry in May
Rue the day.

Who weeds in May
Throws all away.

“A swarm of bees in May
Is worth a load of hay.”

Water in May is bread all the year

A snowstorm in May
Brings weight to the hay.

Who doffs his coat on a winter’s day
Will gladly put it on in May.

“A windy March and a rainy April
Make a beautiful May.”

May makes or mars the wheat.

Mist in May, heat in June
Makes the harvest come right soon.

No wind is colder than a May wind













April Miscellany

April was the first month of the ancient Alban calendar and the second of the early Roman calendar.

April’s name comes from aperire, Latin for “to open”, a reference to the trees unfolding and the earth opening to produce new spring life.

April presents no prettier picture than that of green fields, with rustic stiles between the openings of the hedges, where old footpaths go in and out, winding along, until lost in the distance; with children scattered here and there, singly or in groups, just as the daisies are, all playing or gathering flowers . . . All day long the bees are busy among the bloom, making an unceasing murmur, for April is beautiful to look upon; and if she hides her sweet face for a few hours behind the rain-clouds, it is only that she may appear again peeping out through the next burst of sunshine in a veil of fresh green, through which we see the red and white of her bloom.

“If April first sees cloud and rain
Then beer will smell like an open drain”

If the first three days of April be foggy
Rain in June will make the lanes boggy

“Never trust an April sunshine”

“Snow in April is manure”

“Fogs in April bring a poor wheat crop”

“Married beneath April’s changing skies,
A chequered path before you lies.”

“If it thunder on All Fools’ Day
It brings good crops of grass and hay”

“When April blows his horn
‘Tis good for hay and corn”

“A cold April and a full barn”

“April showers bring forth May flowers”

“Better on April sop
Than a May clot”

“When you hear the cuckoo shout
‘Tis time to plant your tates out!”

“When the cuckoo sings on an empty bough
Keep your hay and sell your cow.”