May Word of the Month

Now is the month of Maying — You all know what Maying means, right? Oh, really? Well pull up a virtual chair and I’ll tell you. It’s one of my favorite words and favorite activities. Of course, yesterday, the first, was the real day to go a-maying, but one must make do.

[ mey-ing ]
noun: the celebration of May Day.
verb (used without object): ( lowercase ) to gather flowers in the spring: when we were maying.

050219 water drops on flowrs
Origin of Maying
1350–1400; Middle English maiing; see May, -ing
Examples from the Web for maying
• I know you’ll like ‘Now is the month of maying ‘ and ‘The trees all budding’. A Pair of Schoolgirls|Angela Brazil
• It calms the mind to listen to your wife’s niece singing, “Oh, that we two were Maying!” My Lady Nicotine|J. M. Barrie
• But then it occurred to me how very seldom one did meet a Quaker nowadays except in the “month of Maying.” Mystic London:|Charles Maurice Davies
• But shall I find in any society such an unmeasured freedom of maying? The Ego and His Own|Max Stirner

050219 flower crown
Simply put, it’s the celebration of May Day, including gathering flowers and dancing around a Maypole, the month of May being named after Maia. (In classic Grecco-Roman mythology, she’s the eldest of the Pleiades and the mother of Hermes by Zeus.)

The Celtic people celebrated May Day as the beginning of Summer, a special day they call Beltaine. (A nifty site on Yahoo! Shares this pronunciation guide: Beltane: BEY-al-TIN-ah, almost but not quite a four syllable word. Nobody will kick your teeth in for pronouncing it bell-tane, though.) For this reason, it’s mostly a northern hemisphere holiday. Celebrations included gathering the abundant flowers from Spring and dancing around a May Pole, making May baskets, and bonfires. Livestock can be purified by being driven between two fires. The God and Goddess are thanked and celebrated and a good time is had by all.

050219 may day illustration

I grew up in the Catholic Church, and always loved the crowning of the Blessed Virgin with a wreath of roses and ribbons. My church had a statue of Mary in front of the school, where we school children would gather and sing hymns and watch the crowing by the teaching nuns. In the church itself, we had a beautiful statue of the Virgin in front of the congregation on the right side of the alter if you faced the congregation. That area was filled to overflowing with flowers and another crown of roses sat on her head. The choir sang special songs for her at the beginning of May.

050219 virgin mary

My daughter dabbled in Wicca and we always gathered rose petals the day before and sprinkled them around the front step and inside the house on May Day. There were herbs involved as well, I think. I loved it and wish I remembered soon enough in advance to gather those petals. I have to rely on the bushes these days to spread their own flowers.

050219 may pole started

Thanks for reading, I hope your May is full of blossoms of promise and success. I’ll be back on Sunday.

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