It may be the start of summer, but the days still have a bit of a chill about them. We haven’t hit the temperature heights yet! As the old fashioned proverb goes,’ Ne’er cast a clout, till May is out.’ One interpretation of this old English saying is ‘never cast off your clothing till the end of the month of May!’ These words are passed on from mothers to the younger generation to prevent them getting an early summer chill, even though the sun may be shining. It’s quite a useful phrase!
Another interpretation involves the Hawthorn bush, also known as the May Tree, which has a delightful covering of white blossom in early summer. These are the flowers Shakespeare may have been referring to when he wrote about ‘the darling buds of May’. So the saying could mean that you shouldn’t cast off your clothes until the blossom of the May tree is out. Either way, we think the message that it’s a little too early to start wearing light summer clothing is loud and clear!
The Hawthorn is revered in Ireland, known among other names as Whitethorn, or the Faerie Tree, because it is said to protect the entrance to the Faerie Kingdom. It is thought to be extremely bad luck to cut or chop down a Hawthorn tree. Irish myth has it that anyone who has ever damaged a Hawthorn tree on his or her land, has ever after been the recipient of extremely hard times and worse. Which is why the tree is held in such reverence and surrounded by superstition. You will often see a single majestic Hawthorn tree standing in the middle of a large field of grazing pasture–so strong is the human instinct to leave a tree of such mythological legend well alone! This time of year, our foragers will be picking it’s blossom for jellies and cordials. It is ok to do this, providing you ask the supernatural guardians of the tree for permission first!