Did you send or take some flowers to someone, perhaps an older lady, your mother, grandmother or someone else on May Day? In former years, and maybe even today, children pick spring flowers and surprise someone with them. My siblings and I did when we were growing up, and my children followed the same example.
No one is quite sure where this new month got its name, but some believe that the Greek goddess Maia was chosen as the name of this fifth month of the year. That's because she was the spring goddess. Some folk use to think it was bad luck to marry in May because Maia disdained marriage. I've never heard of anyone doing that, in fact I think it is a wonderful time for a couple to begin their marriage for that's when our outdoor world brings new life and beauty even as a wedding brings new life and beauty for the bride and groom.
In England, May also use to be called, "the month in which the cows can be milked three times in a day." Perhaps that was because it was the time cows could be put out to pasture after the long winter. I think it's only the smaller farms that do that today.
Lily of the Valley is the flower of May
There are several holidays in May, the first being May Day which descended from spring festivals that were held in Roman, Teutonic and Celtic regions. I think the only National holidays are Mother's Day and Memorial Day, but numerous other ones have been adopted by organizations for special observances including: Asian Americans Month; Egg Month; Historic Preservation Month; Older Americans Month; Teacher Appreciation Month; and many others.
In northern latitudes, May is a time when spring is in full swing. It's the old time saying of Thomas Tusser that, "April showers bring May flowers." I don't know if they are out yet, but if not they will be soon for we have had recent rains.
Thus far I haven't mentioned that the Lily of the Valley is the flower of May. It is a small low growing perennial with bell-like white flowers cascading down from its green stems. The blooms have a lovely fragrance that drifts through the springtime yard. It can be planted in partial shade and likes lots of moisture. I know from experience that its little bulbs can spread rapidly. It can even be planted in a shady place. Sometimes it is used as a ground cover, but its leaves are poisonous so one must be careful where it's planted if they have small children or animals.
I got my Lily of the Valley from my mom's garden. That's a good way to get some if you have a relative or friend that has it. I also must tell you that if it spreads more than you want it too, you must remove all of the plant, including its bulb. My plants are behind my daffodils and annual flowers in the garden by our side door, so I have to remove some yearly or they take over the garden.
As to why the May flower is Lily of the Valley, I can't say except that supposedly it's name means sweetness, humility and purity. I like that name because I have always loved the hymn that I learned as a child, in my grandpa's church, which likens those attributes to the Lord Jesus Christ. It comes from an English melody and the last verse of it is:
"He (Jesus) will never leave me, nor yet forsake me here,
While I live by faith and do His blessed will;
A wall of fire about me, I've nothing now to fear,
With His manna He my hungry soul shall fill.
Then sweeping up to glory to see His blessed face,
Where rivers of delight shall ever roll.
He's the Lily of the Valley, the bright and Morning Star,
He's the fairest of ten thousand to my soul."