The first of May is the day of lovers. At the same time, this day is also known as Labor Day. Its origin dates back to the 19th century and nowadays it is mostly celebrated by political parties and unions in honor of the anarchist strike in the United States, advocating for an eight-hour workday. However, let's return to the more pleasant celebration of spring. The one associated with a kiss under the cherry tree...
The entire month of May is influenced by the planet Venus, whose name is derived from the goddess of love, spring, happiness, and love poetry. It's no wonder that May kissing under the blossoming cherry tree has immense power, ensuring that the couple is filled with love and fertility, and the woman remains beautiful and healthy throughout the year. Folk wisdom even says that a woman who isn't kissed on May 1st under the cherry or birch tree will wither within a year. It's similar to the Easter tradition, but kissing under the blossoming cherry tree is less painful. So gentlemen, it's better to give us a kiss than to whip us with a whip!
In the past, especially in villages, it was customary to create "love pathways." Boys would sprinkle sand, lime, or sawdust along the path from their house to the house of their beloved. They wanted to show the whole village that they no longer wished to hide their love. However, these romantic gestures are now only a thing of the past.
Although Karel Hynek Mácha composed the poem "May" in 1836, he was not the first to designate this day as a celebration of love. According to historical sources, the Celts celebrated the Beltane festival on the night of April 30th to May 1st. It was a symbolic celebration of spring, where fires were lit, and lovers allegedly ventured into the forest for romantic meetings. Is it possible that the tradition of kissing originated in this way? Among other pagan spring celebrations, which have the origins of the celebration of lovers within them, is the six-day festival of Floralia, which was held around May 1st. These celebrations were dedicated to the goddess of spring, Flora. During this festival, rabbits and goats were released into the fields. Both of these animals were considered symbols of fertility and playfulness. Interestingly, the goddess Flora was the patroness of prostitutes. However, these wild festivities later became a thorn in the side of the entire Christian world, which, at the height of its influence, allowed kissing under the cherry tree only for married or engaged couples.
This romantic custom is most commonly associated with a walk to Petřín, where it was customary, even in the last century, to place a bouquet at the statue of Karel Hynek Mácha found in the local gardens.
However, the month of May signifies much more than just a celebration of love. For example, in villages, the tradition called "Máje" is
still celebrated. Each house where a young girl lives has a maypole adorned with ribbons set up overnight, and on the day of the celebration, a procession goes from one maypole to another, with boys dancing with each girl in turn. However, this tradition used to be much more romantic. The maypoles were originally erected by young bachelors under the windows of their chosen ones, as a declaration of their affection. If multiple boys were pursuing the same girl, the one who erected the maypole first had to guard it all night, otherwise, his rival could destroy it and set up his own. Only an honorable girl had the right to a beautifully decorated maypole under her window. If an ugly imitation of a maypole appeared in front of her house instead of a nice birch tree overnight, it meant she had lost her honor. The next day, she would be embarrassed throughout the entire village.
Every year in this May month, city student festivals called "Majáles" are also held. Thus, everyone can truly welcome the arrival of spring in their own way.
It was late evening – the first of May
evening of May – it was the time of love.
The turtledove's voice called for love,
where the pine-scented grove wafted.
The silent moss whispered about love;
the blossoming tree lamented love's sorrow,
the nightingale sang his love to the rose,
its fragrant breath revealing.
Article author: Thalie Petráňová