May is one of my favourite months of the year, with it's longer and (hopefully!) warmer days and lots of blossom and flowers around to cheer us all up. It is also a time for traditional festivals. My local town is famous for Flora Day. This Spring festival celebrates the end of winter and the arrival of new vitality and fertility. Houses and shops are decorated with greenery, yellow gorse and bluebells. It looks wonderful. The dancers, and many of the crowds, wear sprigs of lily of the valley. Lily of the valley is often considered to be the birth flower for May.
For a snippet of this festival click HERE to be redirected to a You Tube clip showing the Midday dance. The ladies wear long dresses and the men top hat and tails. There are several dances throughout the day starting at 7am and finishing at 5pm. Local school children dance through the streets in white. The sound of the band playing the familiar tune vibrates through your head by the end of the day but it is an amazing spectacle that brings the whole community together.
Sadly, this year it was a little wet but this didn't dampen the spirits and a good, if tiring day, was had.
All of which leads me nicely on to emeralds, the traditional birthstone for those born during the month of May. A very fitting gem for the spring time as the colour green symbolises nature and the renewal of life. The word emerald is derived from the Greek word, smaragdus meaning green. They are associated with qualities such as loyalty, faithfulness and friendship. Thoughts that are very much echoed in the verse from the Gregorian Birthstone Poem;
"Who first beholds the light of day,
In spring's sweet, flower month of May,
And wears an Emerald all her life,
Shall be a loved and a loving wife."
Worn by royalty in Babylon and Egypt. Tools dating back to 1300 B.C (reign of Rameses II) have been found in emerald mines in Egypt. Queen Cleopatra's emeralds were thought to have been mined in Southern Egypt close to the Red Sea.
Romans dedicated emeralds to the goddess Venus.
Early Christians saw them as a symbol of the resurrection of Christ.
In the Middle Ages they were believed to have the power to foretell the future.
Their magnificent green colour was said to relieve the eye. Emperor Nero is reputed to have worn eyeglasses made from emeralds to protect the health of his eyes whilst watching gladiator games.
Emeralds were a popular choice in Victorian jewellery.
Emeralds are also given for a 55th wedding anniversary.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about some of the folklore surrounding emeralds. Do you have any May festivals or celebrations where you live?
Thanks to Lexa and her lovely co-hosts
L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge
Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog