Monday, 1 May 2006

Sumer is icomen in,
Lhude sing cuccu.
Groweth sed and bloweth med
And springth the wude nu.
Sing cuccu!
Awe bleteth after lomb
Lhouth after calve cu:
Bulluc sterteth
bucke verteth,
Murie sing cuccu!


Today is May Day, traditionally the first day of Summer in England. OK, so there have been enough attempts to mess about with the traditional seasons, not to mention the events of September 1752, to make it impossible to say definitively when anything should happen "traditionally", but it seems to me that the period between May Day and Lammas works better as Summer than any other three month period.

Traditional (there's that word again) English summer holidays - going to the beach in August with a bucket and spade - are a very modern phenomenon, coming along during and after the Industrial Revolution. Before industrialisation the start of August marked the end of Summer, and the start of the harvest - the busiest time of the year.

Summer was a period of long, lazy days when the countryside was at its most green and pleasant, building up from the celebrations of May Day to Midsummer's Day, and then drifting peacefully towards Lammastide.

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow
Don’t be alarmed now,
It’s just a spring clean for the may queen.
Yes, there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.
And it makes me wonder.


The days are long now, and the old traditions still survive if you know where to look for them. These are the best three months of the year.

3 comments:

Annette said...

Yes, we all look forward to the summer,but I must admit that spring is my favourite time of the year.
When the leaves are turning green and the flowers are popping their heads up out of the wintry ground.I love flowers. The change in colour everywhere is astounding.
I also love the sounds of the birds singing.Theres nothing better than the spring.

Doug Hoffman said...

Bloweth med

I agree. Med doth bloweth. I often wonder why I doth it still.

(I think I can feel you cringing from, what is it, 5000 miles away?)

Kate Allan said...

I went to the 'Chaucer' blog on your sidebar. Hilarious.