In the tradition of Catholics, May is the Blessed Mother “Mary’s month.” As the resurrection of her son “Jesus” is celebrated in April, May brings with it new beginnings. “Jesus” wore a crown of thorns, but “Mary” will wear a crown of flowers depending on which Catholic Church you attend. The flowers will adorn a “Mary” Statues head in praise of her life and motherhood. The flowers also symbolize spring and the renewal of nature and each flower will represent the pure goodness and virtues of “Mary.” To further give thanks and praise to “Mother Mary” Catholic families will place a “Mary” statue amidst flowers in a corner of their house.
Why are flowers used instead of something else to decorate Blessed Mary’s head? There are herbs, twigs, leaves, and grasses that could just as easily be “Mary’s” crown or the set up for the Holy spot Mary will be placed in inside a families home. The ritual of flowers goes back centuries. The Romans used them to crown a May Queen in remembrance of the Goddess Flora who, as her name suggests, ruled over the flowers and their blossoms. It was observed in the remaining days of April and carried over through May 1st.
May 1st may be a holiday for bankers in England, but it used to be a time where neighbors gave each other flowers. Women of that period would use the early morning dew on May 1st to wash their faces. It was thought that this special dew would keep them young for a year.
In some countries it is customary to fill baskets with flowers, candy, and thoughtful well wishing notes. They are called May Baskets and are similar to Easter Baskets. Instead of being left by the Easter Bunny they are left behind by girls. The girls will put the May Baskets on a porch and knock on the door and then run away so the identity of the giver will remain unknown.
Ribbons around a Maypole are an active practice of May celebrations. People will dance in different directions around a tall pole weaving a design similar to a candy cane. Its not just May festivities of flower blossoms and games that created May as a month to Honor “Mother Mary,” but a combination of them all.
May 3rd marked a time during the Middle Ages to hold a customary feast of finding the Holy Cross. Dancing was included in the celebration. This local event might have been a turning point for the Catholic Church to put “Mary” into the picture. It wasn’t until later in 1264 that the “Songs of St. Mary” came into play when the King of Castille, Spain assigned certain days in May for “Mary.” After that, St. Philip Neri, 300 years later brought people together to praise “Mary” in song and floral beauty.