Friday, 12 May 2017

Celebrate the small things and May Birthstones

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."

Through history emeralds have been linked to clairvoyance, memory and faith and have been reputed to be effective for a wide range of health problems including disorders of the eyes and spine, headaches, dysentery,fever, bleeding and panic.

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

21 comments:

  1. Loved the birthstone poem as it was my birthday on Wednesday past.
    Enjoyed reading your post so refreshing on this drizzly Friday morning.
    Enjoy your week-end.

    Yvonne.

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  2. Always knew emeralds were May's birthstone, but wasn't aware of all this lore about 'em. (Shame on me, since it's my birthstone! LOL.) Fascinating!

    And Flora Day sounds absolutely lovely. Very cool that you have a festival like that where you live!

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  3. Hi Suzanne. May is a lovely busy month. I love celebrating May Day. As a kid making May baskets was so much fun. Thank you for the information on the emerald. My son was also born in May, forever changing my life for the best. :)

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  4. Sorry for the dampness, but at least everyone still had a good time. We'd have to do that celebration in March. Way too hot and humid here to do it in May.

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  5. No letting the dampness win sure is a win.

    Maybe I'll have to get an emerald and have it cough up the lottery numbers to me.

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  6. The rain knows how to choose it's moments! Our May Fair was dry, but sandwiched between very wet days!

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  7. May is a very hot month in India. Definitely not one of my favourite month.

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  8. I never thought about emeralds being green and May being a springtime and blossoming month. No wonder they go together so perfectly! Have a nice weekend!

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  9. Hi Suzanne - Flora Day is so Cornish ... it's lovely. Sad about the damp - but still community comes together and everyone has fun. Happy birthday year ahead ... and yes please to warm days! Cheers Hilary

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  10. I love emeralds, I like their lovely colour. That dance looks amazing!

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  11. Our festival is the controversial Contraband Days (Jean Lafitte's contraband to be exact.) It is a second Mardi Gras. I love May as well -- though Indian Summer is my favorite time of year. :-)

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  12. Alas, the only festival near me is the St Kilda festival in summer and I steer clear of that, as it's noisy with rock music, smelly, full of flies buzzing and the shops simply bring their produce out on to the already narrow footpaths. Yours sounds much nicer.

    I love the colour of emeralds. I had heard that about Nero - and there was a reference to it in the film of Quo Vadis, in which an over-the-top Peter Ustinov as Nero was peering through his emerald eyeglass.

    Just Been To See...Carmen

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    1. Interesting that you have seen reference to the emerald eyeglass, Sue.

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  13. This was such an interesting post. My life has been surrounded by May people: My husband, my mother and an aunt (both now deceased), a cousin, several good friends. I enjoyed learning about all the legendary characteristics associated with emerald.

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  14. Glad you enjoyed reading about emeralds. Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate all your lovely comments.

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  15. May is not nearly as nice as February in Florida. =) Emeralds have never been my favorite, but I think they're pretty.

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  16. Oh, that festival seems like a great time! I love May too, it's so great to have the nice weather and flowers before everything gets too hot.
    I always love your birthstone posts. So interesting to learn about the history and folklore behind these stones.

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  17. May is a great month, one of my favorites. I don't own one emerald. I think to think on that.

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