The month of May has always been seen by us as the month of Mary. Its verdant colours, its beauty in the greens, the colour of the lilies, the bluebells, the mayflower, the lily of the valley, all colours which remind us of the purity of Our Lady. Such has been this devotion since early mediaeval times that May figures in so much poetry and song. We also know that May was also a month when Summer blossomed and for many it was a time of revels, dancing round the maypole, reminding us of earlier pagan times, and the revels of Bealtaine, honouring Baal the pagan god.
Today, the May ceremonies and older traditions are but a memory, lost to only the few. Who now remembers the May altar in houses, jam jars filled with bluebells, lilac and early cottage roses. The Maybush was also a feature of those days, especially in rural Ireland, when people would decorate a shrub or bush outside their house, probably harking back to earlier times. Perhaps it was an earlier form of superstition which then became a symbol of a welcome for May and the Virgin, with the growth of the Christian message.
In this busy world it is hard to remind ourselves of May as the month of Mary, but each year, thank God, we still hear the beautiful song so linked to Mary and this beautiful month. Thankfully it is still played on RTE Radio1, and it is has always been sung by our choir here in Marino, each Sunday in May. Hopefully by the end of the month we may hear it echo again in our Church.
Do join our choir by clicking on the video to hear that beautiful hymn, dedicated to our Lady, The Queen of the May, as we echo the poets words,
‘Their voices sound to show their pride
In Mary, Queen of all that’s fair