A long time ago the year was marked out with special days which marked the passing year. These were days of celebrations where people would do things, eat things or make things which they would not normally do.
Rochester, Kent. (First weekend in May)
This occurs in the first weekend in May. It is a throwback to pagan traditions
and coincides with the tradition of Chimney Sweeps welcoming the summer so
that they could clean the dirty chimneys.
Dancers and Musicians converge on
to provide a wonderfully colourful spectacle. See
May is a traditional time for Morris Dancing
Flower Festival Lincolnshire
This is not an unusual event but it is a pretty one!. Thousands of tulips adorn floats
in this annual event.
A float made from tulips
The parade was started by local growers using the flowers
from tulips grown for bulb production. www.flowerparade.org
Well dressing is one of Derbyshire's and the Peak District's best known, most popular and colourful customs. It dates back hundreds of years, and though there have been religious associations, the true origins remain unknown. Click here to find out more
Beating the Bounds
A custom dating from
the 5th century when parishioners asked for God's blessing to protect
their crops. During the Reformation walking the parish boundary became
a more important part of the ceremony as it provided the community
with a mental map which could be drawn on in disputes over boundaries.
It is celebrated with Ganging Beer and Rammalation biscuits.
Bank Holiday Monday
Stilton Cheese Rolling, Stilton, Peterborough 10am-3pm
A cheese-rolling championship and May Day celebrations.
Participants compete in rolling large rounded blocks of wood along the
high street for a prize of stilton cheese and bottles of port.
The Floral Dance always takes place on the 8th of May, except when
that falls on a Sunday or Monday, when the Dance is held on the
The Helston Floral Dance is one of the oldest surviving customs
in the Country, and is a festival to celebrate the coming of spring
the Click Click here to find out more
The oldest May Day celebration still taking place to day, is the Padstow 'Obby 'Oss celebration in Cornwall. Its roots date back to the 14th century. Every May Day thousands of people come to see the two famous Hobby Horses, the Old Oss and the Blue Ribbon Oss.
Celebrations in Padstow officially start the night before at midnight, when a groups of 'mayers' meet outside the Golden Lion Inn to serenade the owner with their Night Song:
Rise up, Mr. Rickard, and joy to you betide,
For summer is a-come in today;
And bright is your bride, that lays down by your side
In the merry morning of May.
The whole town is ablaze with bluebells, forget-me-nots, cowslips, and sycamore twigs. Dancing and other celebrations take place all day.
The local fishing season begins at the end of May and the custom
of blessing the sea goes back to medieval times.
Oak Apple Day
Many people used to wear oak-apple leaves in their lapels or hats and decorate their front doors on Oak Apple Day. At one time, if you didn't, you would risk being stung with nettles or kicked and pinched for being a Roundhead. This is still celebrated by some children in Sussex as 'Pinch-Bum-Day'. Read more about this special day
Whit Sunday Evening
Bread and Cheese Throwing, St Briavels, Gloucestershire
Following evensong on Whit Monday, basketfuls of bread and cheese are thrown
from a wall near the old castle, to be scrambled for in a lane below. Find out more
Spring Bank Holiday Monday
Cheese Rolling, Cooper's Hill, Brookworth in Goucestershire.
Forty thousand spectators congregate at Coopers Hill in the Gloucester village of Brockworth to watch the traditional 7lb Double Gloucester cheese hurtle down a steep slope, pursued by dozens of running, rolling competitors, the fastest of whom wins the cheese.
The video below shows competitors chasing the cheese down the hill