Marry in May, Rue the Day, and Other May Superstitions May 1, 2020 4:38:55 GMT -5
Post by Graveyardbride on May 1, 2020 4:38:55 GMT -5
Marry in May, Rue the Day, and Other May Superstitions
Married when the year is new, he’ll be loving, kind and true.
When February birds do mate, you wed not dread your fate.
If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you’ll know.
Marry in April when you can, joy for Maiden and for Man.
Marry in the month of May, and you’ll surely rue the day.
Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you’ll go.
Those who in July do wed, must labor for their daily bread.
Whoever wed in August be, many a change is sure to see.
Marry in September’s shrine, your living will be rich and fine.
If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry.
If you wed in bleak November, only joys will come, remember.
When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last.
Historically, June is the favored month for weddings and while those more interested in money than love might want to avoid October, and those who aren’t particularly interested in working for a living should probably shun July, at least getting hitched in those months doesn’t spell disaster. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the doomed men and women who tie the knot in May, for they are destined to regret their decision for the remainder of their lives.
The admonition against May marriages can be traced to Ancient Rome. May was the time of the Lemuralia (Lemuria), or Feast of the Dead, when families performed rituals to exorcise frightful and malevolent spirits infesting their homes. These ghosts (lemures) were appeased with offerings of beans and on three days of the month, the Vestals (priestesses of Vesta) prepared mola salsa, bread made of flour from the first sheaves of wheat to which salt was added. This mixture was sprinkled on the altar, on the forehead and between the horns of animals prior to sacrifice, and on the sacred fire throughout the year. Some scholars believe that on one of these three days, homage was paid to Mania (aka Manea), Goddess of the Dead. To marry at a time when everyone should be honoring the dead and ridding their homes of spooks was likely considered bad form as well as unlucky.
Another reason for avoiding a May wedding is referenced in an old 1940s French text which says: “The month of May is also in the Black Mountain a month altogether rejected by the young girls who are betrothed; and they frankly say upon the subject, that it is not suitable to marry at a period when the asses are amorous.” In other words, it’s boorish to marry during the time the beasts are mating.
But it isn’t just weddings that should be avoided during the month of May. In British lore, it was once believed children born in May would be weak and sickly and, in fact, a 2017 study in Spain found that males born in May were prone to depression, asthma and diabetes, and females were likely to suffer from chronic allergies, constipation and osteoporosis. According to Professor José Antonio Quesada, who was in charge of the study, “The month of birth may behave as an indicator of periods of early exposure to various factors, such as exposure to ultraviolet rays, Vitamin D, temperature, seasonal exposure to viruses and allergies that may affect the development of the uterus and neonate in their first months of life ....”
Then, of course, there’s the zodiac factor: May people are born either under the sun sign Taurus or Gemini and those with their sun in Taurus are susceptible to throat and ear infections, and Geminis are likely to suffer from respiratory problems. Children with frequent throat and/or ear infections and respiratory issues are often weak and sickly. This, of course, begs the question: Did British men and women of the distant past avoid marital relations during the month of August in order to prevent the birth of possibly defective children?
The May taboo also applied to cats: it was once believed that May kittens would never be adequate mousers and they attracted snakes, as indicated in an old Cornish adage:
Kittens born in May bring adders to the door in August.
At one time in Britain, it was said if blankets were washed in May, a family member would die.
Wash a blanket in May,
Wash a dear one away.
This superstition likely has its roots in Medieval times, or earlier, when people had few bed coverings and those who stripped their beds and washed their blankets when there was still a chance of cold weather risked catching cold while the blankets were drying on the line and a cold could lead to pneumonia and death.
Another West Country superstition, this one from Devonshire, concerns the purchase of brooms:
Buy a broom in the month of May
Sweep one of the house away.
So far as is known, no one has been able to explain this particular prohibition.
Although every day in May was considered unlucky for some activities, certain days brought more ill fortune than others. For some reason May 3rd, 6th, 7th, 13th, 15th and 20th were especially inauspicious.
Sources: Appleton’s Journal of Literature, Science and Art, Vol. 5, January 7 - June 24, 1871; Marriage Customs of the Word: An Encyclopedia of Dating Customs and Wedding Traditions by George P. Monger; The Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore & The Occult Sciences; Global News, May 12, 2017; Cindy Packard, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, June 3, 2014; Project Britain; JR Thorpe, Bustle, June 27, 2018; Eva Taylor Grant, Bustle, June 13, 2018; International Days of the Dead; and A Dictionary of English Folklore.