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May Day Customs in Ireland

ireland - may day customs

May on Our Doorstep is a National Museum of Ireland – Country Life project that celebrates the survival of traditional May Day Customs in Ireland.

The Museum would like to find out what May customs are carried out in your home, school or local area.

Some customs associated with the passing of seasons, like the making of St Brigid’s Crosses or the wearing of Hallowe’en masks, have survived to the present day. However, some people may not realise that the arrival of summer on May 1st is still marked through a variety of traditions and customs in 21st century Ireland.

Traditionally, flowers are associated with the month of May and are believed to protect against bad luck. They are laid on doorsteps, window sills and pathways and in some areas people still decorate the May Bush and build May Altars.

The Museum is conducting a national online survey in order to record which of the May customs still survive today. Members of the public are invited to take part and submit their traditions and observations of May celebrations. This information will help build a map showing the variety and distribution of May Customs across Ireland and will provide a picture of how people continue to welcome the beginning of summer.

Valuable folklore about May traditions is also being collected online where people have the opportunity to share and cherish memories about May Day’s Past.

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