Mayday! No, don’t panic. It’s May Day.

For a professor of quantum physics, I’m a man of simple pleasures; a nice hot bath; a bowl of vanilla ice cream; reading books about trans-dimensional interstellar quantum particle theory and its applied uses in time travel and springtime.

So I thought we’d take a little trip back in time to see how our ancestors celebrated the coming of spring and how that eventually became known as ‘May Day’. Buckled up? Well, you know the drill by now. Let’s go.

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Flora

Here we are in Ancient Rome where they’re celebrating the coming of spring with a whole day of dancing dedicated to the Goddess of Flowers, Flora, who’s always leaving trails of beautiful flowers in her wake (a bit of a pain to clean up after though). Here’s some trivia for you, she was said to have given the goddess Juno an enchanted flower that made her pregnant with Mars! We’d better not stick around for too long though, those Romans might be dancing beautifully over there but once they spot us they’ll be itching to turn us in to flower pots. Oh look, they’ve seen us and they’re dancing their way over here with bloodlust in their eyes! Let’s scarper, forget the seat belts and just hold on tight!

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Phew, that was a close one. Where are we? Ah yes, this looks like the medieval times. How can I tell? It has a certain smell, you see.

may day

Do you see that tall pole in the village centre? That’s a May Pole. Traditionally made of birch wood, the maypole has lots of little coloured ribbons attached to its top that hang down its length. Children take a ribbon each and dance in complicated patterns until the material is wrapped tightly around the pole and spring is begun. The official May Day was part of a pagan ritual initially and in more puritanical times, the celebration was banned! Some Roman Catholics celebrate the Virgin Mary on May 1st instead. We’d better not stay to watch though; the last time they caught me here they put me in the stocks for three weeks until I told them how to turn copper in to gold. Don’t worry about the economy though, no one remembers. That’s why they’re called the Dark Ages.

Alright I’ve had enough of this smell now. Let’s go.

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Hooray! We’re back in modern day London now, Mayfair in fact. Did you know that Mayfair was supposedly named after a raucous May Day festival held in the 1800s? Hmm, that sounds like fun… shall we go and check it out? What? Even professors need to party sometimes. Besides, it’s all in the name of history. Hold on to your drinks!

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