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Going a Maying | Bringing in the May | Birmingham City Council

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Going a Maying

'Going a Maying' took place on May Day eve, when young people went out into the woods to collect flowering branches, bringing back the may into their homes at sunrise. The May tree was believed to have special powers and bringing its blossom inside thought to be unlucky at any other time than on May Day. The hawthorn is the traditional May tree, but other British trees in blossom at this time include sycamore, rowan or mountain ash.

The custom of children's flower garlands was popular in the 1800s and evolved from the bringing in the may custom usually performed by young adults. After making their garlands, children would go from house to house, singing songs and collecting money. It was also customary for plants to be attached to doors whose names rhymed with the assumed character of the person who lived within. Holly on your door would mean you were thought to be jolly, whereas briar would indicate a liar!