Tomorrow is the pre-christian celebration of fertility. Big in Ireland as it is a Celtic tradition and quite big in Oxford where it is called May Morning. Lots of comely maidens and supposedly randy males gathering their nuts in May.
Best place to be at 6am is on Magdalen Bridge to hear the college choristers sing an ode to May dating back to the time of Henry Vlll. Great time for subversion and creating mayhem. Do it.
May Morning in Oxford when young women shiver in their flimsy frocks and decorate their hair with flowers and young men invite them to come gather their nuts in May while they party through the night leaving older people to set their watches before they go to bed so that they are up and out and converging on Magdalen College for 6am.
And the tower of Magdalen will tremble with the sound of the bells ringing while the choristers sing out the Gaudi which was first sung in the reign of Henry Vlll though few will know what it is they are celebrating, its meaning long since forgotten.
But some will know it’s Bealtaine, the great Celtic fertility feast and that Oxford and a village nearby are the only places in England that have continued to mark this sacred time for centuries as have many other places including the Roman Temple of Bel in Palmyra one of the few times when town and gown come together for a bit of merriment.
And if you don’t know the words of the Gaudi, you can always sing Here Comes to Sun….