May probably draws its name from the ancient Greek Goddess Maia, who was associated with the ancient Roman Goddess of fertility (Bona Dea) whose festival was held in May. It is the third of the seven Gregorian months, with 31 days. May's birthstone is the emerald and its traditional flowers are the hawthorn and the lily of the valley. No other month begins on the same day of the week as May in any calendar year. In the Southern Hemisphere, May is the third month of autumn.

May 1

Today is the Grater Sabbat of Samhain in the Southern Hemisphere (the Greater Sabbat of Beltane in the Northern Hemisphere).

 

May 4

Fairy Day. According to Irish folklore, it is on this day that the mischievous fairy folk emerge from their hiding places. To prevent human children from being stolen by the fairies and replaced by changelings, an offering of tea and bread must be left on the doorstep for the little people.

 

May 8

In Cornwall, England, the annual Furry Dance is performed in the streets of Helston on this day in honour of the old Celtic Horned God in the guise of Robin Hood. The festival, which features street dancing and a daylong procession throughout the town for good fortune, is one of the oldest surviving Springtime ceremonies in the world.

 

May 9

An annual rite called the Lemuria was performed on this date in ancient Rome times to appease the restless spirits of the dead (Lemures), who materialised on this day to haunt the homes where they had once lived. The Lemuria was also held on the eleventh and thirteenth of May. As part of the rite, black beans (symbolic of the Underworld) were tossed as offerings to the ghosts and a powerful prayer was recited nine times.

 

May 20

On this date, the sacred festival of Plynteria was celebrated annually in ancient Greece. The festival was held in honour of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and battle, and the patroness of the city of Athens (which was named after her), and included the ritual sea cleansing of her statue, followed by prayers in the Parthenon and feasting.

 

May 23

The ancient Roman sacred festival of Rosalia, dedicated to the flower goddess Flora and the love goddess Venus, was celebrated annually on this date.

 

May 24

The birth of the Greek Moon goddess Artemis (who also presides over hunting and wild beasts) has been celebrated each year on this day since ancient times.

 

May 25

In ancient Greece, the birthday of Apollo, the twin brother of the goddess Artemis, was celebrated annually on this date.

 

May 26

Sacred Well Day. On this day, it is traditional for Pagans and Witches (especially in Ireland and Great Britain) to decorate sacred wells with wreaths and to toss offerings of flowers into the water in honour of the deities and spirits of the well. This custom dates back to the ancient Romans, who celebrated an annual well festival called the Fortinalia on this day.

 

May 27

On this date in 1948, Morning Glory Zell was born in Long Beach, California. She is a priestess and vice-president of the Church of All Worlds, and is a practitioner of Celtic Pagan Shamanism.

 

May 28

A sacred rite called the Pythian Games was enacted every four years on this date in ancient Greece. The rite honoured the slain serpent goddess Python, and was celebrated in Delphi, the most venerated shrine in all of Greece.

 

May 29

On this day in ancient Rome, the god Mars was honoured by farmers with feasts, prayers, animal sacrifices, and rites of purification. The Ambarvalia festival was also celebrated on this day in honour of Ceres, Juno, the Lares, and the Family Goddesses.

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