Presently January 2022 | Traditions and New beginnings

Presently January 2022 | New beginnings

We are here! We are on the 2nd day in a brand new month, in a brand new year – January 2022. 2022 has tiptoed in gracefully, giving us the momentum on fresh thoughts, fresh energies and the path for new beginnings … so they say 🙂

I agree with all the positives and completely in agreement with January 2022 being the month for new beginnings but I’m not so sure about the energy part! After a month of indulgence in delicious food, roasts with all the trimmings, Christmas cake, and wine with family and friends, I am as slow as molasses on 2nd January! Now, I gotta lose all the pounds I’d piled up, but ahh, I have the 333 days or so for that, right?

Anyways, January 2022.

With January being the first of the twelve chapters, let’s take a look at what Presently January 2022 is all about …

Welcome to January 2022 e-column

Presently January 2022
presently January 2022

About the month of January

There is a certain magic that comes with the very first month of the year. January is the beginning of everything I want. Another year of opportunities, new dreams, the magic of new beginnings, the same me but this time with bigger goals. January 2022 means moving forward with a lot of new dreams and time to get my fitness in tow.

I imagine the month is also a time to sit back and enjoy the snow (or rain and more rain) it brings, winter’s butterflies, hot chocolate, cold nights and frosty mornings. Cozy socks, a shot of port on the side table, a book in hand with winter warm log fires (I’m old fashioned, still prefer to turn pages of a book to kindle). January is perfect to set aside time to plan ahead for the year without allowing the dismal weather along with the dark days of winter to get us down.

While we cherish the cold, frost, dark days of winter, log fires, life on the slow and the snow-lined streets, Presently January takes a brief look at the months origin, traditions and lores along with its special birthstones and flowers.

Origins of January

January was established as the beginning of the year by the Romans. The month takes its name from the god, Janus (Latin meaning ‘door’). Janus was the spirit of ‘opening’, the protector of gates and doorways, that denote the “beginnings and endings.” According to legend, Janus had two faces, which enabled him to look forwards to the year ahead for new beginnings as well as backwards to the past year for reflection and resolution.

Given his incredible ability, the Romans would offer sacrifices and made promises to Janus and exchanged good wishes. It is this custom that is said to be the origin of making New Year resolutions.

The Anglo-Saxons called the first month Wolf Monath. This is when the wolves come into villages in search of food.

Recommended read: Presently March

Festivals, Celebrations, Traditions and Lores in January

January 2022
presently January 2022

1 | New Year’s Day — January 1

New Year’s Day is the first day of the first month of the year. It is a time to look forward and to make wishes for a good year ahead. It is also a day of holiday.

Celebrations to welcome the new year generally begins the day before, in late evening, on New Year’s Eve. The new year is generally welcomed with fireworks, singing and parties in many countries. In UK, there are extraordinary fireworks display in London, and other main cities. In Scotland, the new year is welcomed with a spirited festival called Hogmanay. As Big Ben strikes midnight, the fireworks over the Thames begins and people link arms and sing Auld Lang Syne, to remember both old and new friends.

2 | Twelfth Night — January 5

January 5th marks an old English custom and brings Christmas merrymaking to a close. In ancient times, the Celts ended their 12-day celebrations of winter solstice on this day. It is customary to mark the end of Christmas merrymaking with a toast with each other present from the wassail bowl.

3 | Epiphany — January 6

Presently January 2022
presently January 2022

January 6th sees the celebration of Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day. According to tradition, on this day, there were three wise men who brought gifts to baby Jesus. These were “gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

The word epiphany comes from the Greek word, epiphaneia which means “manifestation.”

In some countries where Epiphany is observed, it is a day of celebration where gifts are exchanged. A King Cake is baked with a lucky bean inside and the lucky bean finder is “crowned” as the king of the feast.

More popular in the UK is Epiphany Tart, originated in the Victorian era. Just a fancy name for a delicious jam tart 🙂

4 | St Hilary’s Day — January 13

In the past, January had been the coldest month of the year in UK, with plenty of frost, ice and snow. One particular day was noted due to past cold events, January 13, also known as St Hilary’s Feast Day.

January 13, 1205 is known as one of the severe winters in history. On this day, River Thames in London froze over. Ale and wine turned to ice and were sold by weight.

5 | The tradition of Wassailing

January 2022

Wassailing is an ancient English Yuletide drinking ritual that has been part of Christmas and New Year celebrations as far back as the 1400s. It is a beverage more usually drunk on Christmas Eve and on Twelfth Night.

Wassail is a drink made with hot mulled cider, or wine with spices and drunk in plentiful amounts to enjoy with others in a lively way.

6 | New Year Day Superstition

In medieval times, farmers would place a flat cake on one of the horns of a cow. They would then sing a song and dance around the cow until the cake is thrown to the ground. If the cake fell in front of the cow, it means prosperity for the year ahead and if it falls behind, it meant the opposite.

7 | Unluckiest Day

According to an old Saxon belief, January 2 was one of the unluckiest days in the year.

8 | The year’s first moon

The year’s first full moon is known as Wolf Moon and is on 17 January 2022. The name Wolf Moon originates from the Native American legends. Wolves would howl outside of Native American villages when the full moon appeared. The relation of wolves to full moon also appear in various mythologies including Scandinavian and German.

January birthstone

presently January 2022
Garnet January gemstone

January’s birthstone is the Garnet. The word “garnet” originates from the 14th century word “gernet” which means “dark red.” It is so called as it resembles the red seeds of the pomegranate.

Garnet is a symbol of love, luck, health, loyalty and friendship. It is a gem often traditionally gifted between couples on their second and eighteenth wedding anniversary

January flowers

January 2022
striped carnation
presently January 2022
snowdrop

There are two flowers associated with the first month of the year – Carnation and Snowdrop. Both of these flowers are delicate, representing love and distinction.

January Quotes

Here are some of my favourite January quotes:

“JANUARY,
The first month of the year,
A perfect time to start all over again,
Changing energies and deserting old moods,
New beginnings, new attitudes.”
— Charmaine J. Forde

“To read a poem in January is as lovely as to go for a walk in June.” — Jean Paul

Recommended read: The BEST New Year Quotes | 91 to inspire a fresh start in travel

What to look forward to from TTS

As January 2022 has begun, so is my excitement in sharing my travel stories with you. I shall be sharing on my travels to Scotland, Seville, Milan, Venice and day trips as well as weekend breaks in England. Presently series will take a new approach and content, to be published on the first Sunday of each month. Expect to receive a once or twice weekly dose on travel inspiration and/or travel tips right to your inbox if you have subscribed. If you haven’t yet, please do so with the link below.

Stay Connected!


Finally …

January comes around every year like a train on schedule and whatever it is we decide to do for the rest of the year, make sure we stay positive and work smart to make things happen. Stop worrying about things we cannot control. January 2022 marks a new beginning – both in business and in our personal life. Always remember that while we’d better get aboard the train, the journey is not about reaching the final destination, the end line. It is about how you get there. Take time to enjoy the ride gracefully, pausing to take in the fresher air, sunshine and the fragrance of flowers along the way.

Have a wonderful year ahead

Georgina xx


Hello, Hello, Hello ... A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU! Welcome to our first publication in 2022. January 2022 has tiptoed in gracefully and here is a pleasant read on what the first month of the year is all about on this calm, beautiful and chilly afternoon via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/Hello, Hello, Hello ... A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU! Welcome to our first publication in 2022. January 2022 has tiptoed in gracefully and here is a pleasant read on what the first month of the year is all about on this calm, beautiful and chilly afternoon via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

Presently December 2021 | Winter Sparkle, Christmas & Auld Lang Syne

Presently December 2021 | Winter Sparkle, Christmas & Auld Land & Syne

I love the wrapping up of gifts till midnight, filling up Christmas stockings with little gems, indulging in hot chocolate and spiced cookies amidst a background of Christmas songs. Children delight in the magic that December brings. December is the month for Christmas movies, carolling and pantos. Time of celebrations, that brings family and friends together, a time of giving. A time for re-uniting old friends who gather around a fire, sharing tales of old over Bailey’s and ice!

As December is very much associated with Christmas, much of the month’s traditions and festivals are related to this special day in Christian calendar.

Let’s take a look at what Presently December has in store for you …

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Welcome to December e-column

About the month of December

With winter solstice officially on December 21, the month marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and in the Southern Hemisphere, it is the time for blue skies and summer sunshine!

For most, winter means it is the time of rain, wind and snow but the icy serenade also brings out the warmth within. The purity of snow, ringing in our merriment, inviting our feet to play and the spirit to laugh. The winter wind, and the brilliant rays brings uniqueness and excitement. Sunshine and cold. Sparkle and ice. Though cold, it feels warm even when the north wind bites.

I remain cozy within a woollen hat, snuggly scarf, and cosy footsies. Of course, there are days when I stay under the warmth of a duvet, fingers wrapped around a mug of hot chocolate. Yet, there are days, when winter takes my hand, and leads me to appreciate its beauty, allowing for quiet poetry to form in my soul. It is but the dawn of spring where flowers will soon blossom.

So, while winter is here in this December month, Presently December takes a brief look at the origins of this special month, the customs and traditions at Christmas along with December’s birthstone, flowers and lores.

Origins of December

December is the twelfth and the last month of the year in Julian and Gregorian calendars but it was originally the tenth month in the Roman calendar (until 153 BC). It’s name comes from the Latin word, “decem” which means “ten.”

For the Anglo-Saxons, the month was “winter monath” or “Yule monath” because of the tradition of burning the yule log around this time. When the Anglo-Saxons embraced Christianity, they called the month “Heligh monath” or holy month because the birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated in December.

December 25 marks the mass of Christ, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ over 2000 years ago.

As such, a lot of the month’s traditions relates to Christmas. December begins with the season of Advent, a time to prepare for the Christmas feast.

Festivals, Celebrations and Traditions in December

November 28 – December 24: Advent

The word “advent” means coming and it refers to the coming of or the birth of Jesus Christ. The tradition of Advent began in the 1800s.

Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas, and covers four Sundays. The four Sundays usually begins with the Sunday closest to the end of November and the period of Advent goes right through to December 24.

The Advent Wreath and Candles

The Advent wreath is a circle of evergreen laid flat to symbolise to Christians of God’s eternity and endless mercy which has no beginning or end. The green of the wreath symbolises hope that Christians have in God. Hope of renewal and hope of eternal life. In it, four candles plus one is placed.

The advent candles represents to Christians the light of God, coming to the world through the birth of His son, Jesus Christ. During each of the four Sundays before Christmas, it is customary to light a candle to embrace the journey of the Christmas story, and the last one, which represents Christ, is lit on Christmas Day.

The four traditional Advent theme for the candles are:

1 | The Candle of Hope – God’s people. Christians celebrate the hope we have in Jesus Christ;

2 | The Candle of Peace – The Old Testament Prophets. Christians celebrate the peace we find in Jesus Christ;

3 | Candle of Love – John the Baptist. Christians celebrate the love we have in Jesus Christ;

4 | The Candle of Joy – Mary the Mother of Jesus. Christians celebrate the joy we find in Jesus.

The 5th candle is a symbol of the birth of Jesus Christ. As Christians light this candle on Christmas Day, it reminds us that Christ is the light of the world, and if we follow him, we will have the true light of life.

December 6 — St Nicholas Day

St Nicholas is the patron saint of children. In European countries such as the Netherlands, St Nicholas bring sweets and presents to fill stockings of well behaved children. This tradition evolved to Santa Claus in the USA and Father Christmas in the UK with gift giving rounds performed later in the month.

December 17 — Lord of Misrule

The festival of Saturnalia has its origins in ancient Roman times. This was celebrated in honour of the god of agriculture and was a day event. It eventually grew to be a 7-day feasting and merrymaking beginning December 17, blending into Christmas, and Twelfth Night.

During this festival, the slaves enjoyed a holiday. They received presents, allowed to wear informal clothes, and permitted to play gambling games. They were waited on by their masters for the duration of the festival. It then became customary to appoint a ‘master’ to oversee the celebrations. In England, this character appeared as the Lord of Misrule, who presided over the entire period, sometimes beginning from Halloween (October 31) to Candlemas (February 2).

December 21 — The Winter Solstice (1st day of Winter)

The Northern Hemisphere welcomes winter officially on or near December 21.

The celebration of Winter Solstice, also known as Yule, is one of the oldest celebrations in the world. Celebrated by the pagans, they welcome the longest night, and the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. On this day, the North Pole is at its furthest point from the sun.

There are two Winter Solstice traditions worth knowing:

1 | Mistletoe and the Oak Tree

The mistletoe and the mighty oak tree are both symbolic at winter solstice. Oaks were regarded as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe that grew on them were regarded as a symbol of life during the dark wintry months. The Celtic priests would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and offer it as blessings.

2 | The Yule Log

The Druids also started a tradition with the Yule log. They thought that the sun stood still for 12 days during winter. During this time, they would lit the yule log, to conquer the darkness and to banish all evil, so good luck will come in the next year.

December 31 — New Year’s Eve

As it is the last day of the year, many sees the year out with celebrations and welcoming the new year with parties, singing, dancing, fireworks, champagne and good wishes. As the clock strikes midnight, people link their arms with each other and sing “Auld Lang Syne” — a song that reminds them of old and new friends.

Auld Lang Syne is from an old Scottish dialect and is translated to mean as “times gone by.” The song is associated with Robert Burns and is believed to be written in 1700s.

It is customary to stay up late to see the year out. There is also the tradition to open the primary door of the house at the last stroke of midnight to allow the old year out and the new year in.

Superstitions and Lores of December

December Superstitions

“The child born on Christmas Day will have a special fortune”

“Wearing new shoes on Christmas day will bring bad luck”

“Good luck will come to the home where a fire is kept burning throughout the Christmas season”

December weather lores and sayings

“A clear star-filled sky on Christmas Eve will bring good crops in the summer”

“Snow on Christmas means Easter will be green”

“If Christmas day be bright and clear;
There’ll be two winters in the year.”


Stay Connected with Timeless Travel Steps


December Quotes

Enjoy December moments with these beautiful quotes:

“Remember This December, That love weighs more than gold.” — Josephine Daskam Bacon

“December’s wintery breath is already clouding the pond, frosting the pane, obscuring summer’s memory….” — John Geddes

“There’s something super special about December.” — Charmaine J. Forde


December birthstone

The gemstone for December is Turquoise. It is regarded a love charm, symbol of good fortune and success. It is believed to bestow the wearer a relaxed mind, calm, and balanced mind as well as protection from harm.

Turquoise is opaque with a blue-green colour. Bluer stones are considered more valuable.

Zircon and Tanzanite are also considered to be December birthstones.

December birth flower

December’s flowers are the Holly and the Narcissus, both symbolising Hope.

The Holly is a symbol for domestic happiness, representing luck, fertility and truth.

December plant

A popular plant at Christmas brighten-up any room! December plant is the Poinsettia. Also known as the Christmas Star, the Aztecs believed it to be a symbol of purity. It represents good cheer, success and celebration also.

All about Christmas …

If you are Christmas crazy as I am, you may enjoy these posts:

Christmas highlights in London | Timeless Travel Steps | Timeless Travel Culture History
32 best Christmas song lyrics for festive Instagram posts
75 Christmas Captions & Puns to Grow Instagram during the holiday season
42 Christmas movie captions
Best Christmas Lights in London
London's Christmas Lights | An Unmissable Festive Cheer
quirky things to do at Christmas
Christmas markets in London

What to look forward to from TTS

I shall be catching-up with friends I hadn’t caught-up with since two Christmas’ ago (we all know what happened last Chrsitmas!) and doing all the things I usually do at Christmas – shopping, movies, baking, planning, my yummy Christmas cake, red wine, Baileys & ice, maybe some port, reading and just chill!

I very much look forward to 2022 and am excited what it may hold for TTS as it goes/grows from strength to strength which would not be possible without your support. I am grateful for the time each of you take to read, to comment, to get in touch and share my stories with family, friends and on social media. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL THAT YOU DO TO SUPPORT TIMELESS TRAVEL STEPS and I.

TTS returns with new publication in January. Stay tuned.


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Finally …

While I love all things Christmas, and as a Christian, I am thankful for a blessed year. I am also mindful that 2021 has not been a ‘good’ year for many, challenging normalcy as we know it.

Some of us have lost loved ones, and Christmas will not be the same without them. Losses comes in many forms, not just in the passing of our dearly beloved, but also separation and break-ups. While missing someone we love is one of the hardest emotions to overcome, we must take the time we need to heal our sorrow. Take all the time we need, there is no need to hurry. We are, our “best friend” we could count on. Slowly, and surely we press on with courage, for whatever the future holds, we must trust, believe, move forwards and upwards, knowing that we are not alone and are watched over from above.

As we look to the new year, hold on to what is good. Treasure those beautiful memories. Let go of what is bad. Embrace travel — it always has answers even in silence.

We will be okay.

Georgina xoxo


Wishing ALL our family, friends, patrons, supporters and readers a “Very Special & Merry Christmas 2021” and if you do not celebrate Christmas, enjoy the “Very best of Winter Holidays with family & friends.” Have an awesome New Year’s Eve, wherever you are on our beautiful Earth.

TTS Team


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Winter tales, celebrations and Auld Lang Syne - Find out what the month of December is all about via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/Winter tales, celebrations and Auld Lang Syne - Find out what the month of December is all about via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

Presently September 2021

Presently September 2021

And then the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep and Autumn was awaked.

Raquel Franco

… and it is the wonderful month when I welcome the fresh cool air and the fragrance of the season. Colours of scarlet and gold and their gentle playfulness in the soft light of autumn. Parks are awash with spectacular colours of foliage. Fallen leaves that looks like crusts of brown sugar and cinnamon. Those scarlet and maple leaves create more beauty than I can ask for!

The equinox marks the start of this wonderful season, and harvest celebrations to look forward to with apple picking and pumpkin carving. It’s time to gather up the harvest and prepare for the winter months ahead.

While I embrace the cooler weather, I wrap my coat around me a little tighter rather than letting it flap in the breeze – a melancholy reminder that the sun has taken a step back, allowing autumn to have her moments. I love the season and all that she brings including the showers 🙂

Welcome to September e-column

About the month of September

The month of September is the ninth month in the current Gregorian calendar and comes from the old Roman word, ‘septem’. “Septem’ means ‘seven’ because it was the seventh month in the Roman calendar.

To the Anglo-Saxons, the ninth month was called ‘Gerst monath’, meaning “barley month“. They harvested barley during this time and brewed their favourite autumn drink, barley brew. They also called the month, Haefest monath which meant Harvest month.

For the Romans, the month of September was looked after by the god, Vulcan. Vulcan was the god of fire and they believed September to be associated with fires, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Presently in September, school term begins with the end of six-week long summer break.

A quick look at the history of September

Previous to the current Gregorian Calendar, Britain followed the Julian Calendar up until 1752. The Julian Calendar was based on the solar system – the time Earth takes to rotate around the Sun. Hence, a year was 365.25 days. Over time, the Julian calendar was considered inaccurate as it drifted away from astronomical events such as the winter solstice. Thus, Britain adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1752 to correct the inaccuracies.

However, it is important to note that not all countries adopted the switch straightaway. It took more than three centuries for all the countries to implement the switch. Russia, Greece and Turkey were the last countries to adopt the switch as late as the early 20th century.

Note: The Gregorian calendar was born in 1582, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII

September birthstone

September birthstone is the sapphire, which is thought to guard against evil and poisoning.

Sapphire is typically blue, a colour caused by the combination of iron and titanium. The vivid medium blues are more valuable than the lighter and darker tones. Sapphires also appear in other colours. The popular ones are red, known as rubies.

Sapphires are said to symbolise purity, truth, trust and loyalty. They also encourage divine wisdom and protection.

September birth flower

September birth flower is the morning glory (above) and the aster. The aster is a symbol of powerful love while morning glory symbolises affection.


Stay Connected!


September Traditions, Festivals and Folklores

Harvest festival in Britain

Traditionally, harvest begins on September 24. In medieval England, there were a number of ceremonies and some are still observed in rural England.

“Calling the Mare”

Calling the Mare was a ceremony where the farmers would gather the last sheaf of their harvest to prove that they had reaped the best crops. The would use the last sheaf of their harvest to shape a mare and send this to their neighbour, shouting “mare, mare”. This is to remind them that wild horses would come and eat their harvest if they didn’t gather it in quickly. The last farmer would have to keep the “mare” on display till the following year to signify he was the slowest farmer.

Corn dolls

The custom of making corn dolls dates back hundreds of years. Corn dolls are believed to be the spirit of the corn goddess.

It was believed that the corn goddess lived in the corn and would die when the corn was harvested. So, the farmers saved some of the corn. Corn dolls were weaved out of these last sheaves to make sure the corn goddess stayed alive and rest in until next spring sowing.

Traditions in Britain

Michaelmas Day

Michaelmas Day is celebrated on 29th September and is associated with the feast of St Michael, patron saint of the sea and maritime. Traditionally, the day also marks the last day of harvest.

Michaelmas Day is sometimes also known as Goose Day. Goose Fairs are held in some English towns but geese are no longer traded. A popular one is the Nottingham Goose Fair which is now held around October 3.

Note: “Lammas” meaning “loaf Mass” was a custom celebrated on August 1, to mark the beginning of harvest. On this day, farmers would bake loaves of bread from their new harvest and give it to the church. This custom stopped when King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic church. Instead, harvest day is celebrated at the end of September along with Michaelmas Day.

September Taditions around the world

Moon Festival

The Moon Festival is the second largest festival in China after the Chinese New Year. This has been celebrated in the Chinese calendar for over three-thousand years and typically takes places at the end of September in the Gregorian calendar.

The Moon Festival occurs on the full moon nearest the fall equinox, when the moon is the brightest and roundest. Celebrations involve brightly coloured lanterns, dances and games. People gather together to give thanks for their families, harvest and best wishes for long life and happiness.

Sayings and Poems in September

Sayings in September

Some popular sayings for fun:

Heavy September rains bring drought;

September dries up ditches or breaks down bridges;

Married in September’s golden glow, smooth and serene your life will go;

Poems in September

“The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-
Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.
The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Chrysanthemums.
Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze. 
–  John Updike, September

“‘Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.”
–  Thomas Moore, The Last Rose of Summer, 1830

“Lord, it is time.
The summer was very big.
Lay thy shadow on the sundials, and on the meadows let the winds go loose.
Command the last fruits that they shall be full; give them another two more southerly days,
press them on to fulfillment and drive the last sweetness into the heavenly wine.”
–  Rainer Maria Rilke


Re cap since July e-column

The following are articles published in the month of August, if you had missed them:

The Jacobite Steam Train Travel in the Scottish Highlands
day trips from Milan
the London Pass
Charming City London
The Incredible History of Britain - A tapestry of humanity
Monthly e-column


That’s a wrap from me for the month of September.

Whatever you get up to, enjoy the fall colours and the gentle breeze. Soon, it will be time for log fires, cosy socks and hot chocolate with marshmallows 🙂

Till next time,

Georgina xoxo


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Presently September 2021
Presently September 2021

Sources

timeanddate.com


Presently September 2021 first published at timelesstravelsteps.com

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The month of September | Presently September 2021 | September e-column | About the month of September | Gregorian calendar | Folklore in September | Traditions in September | Festivals in September | Harvest festivals in September | Michaelmas Day | Lammas | Poems in September | via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/The month of September | Presently September 2021 | September e-column | About the month of September | Gregorian calendar | Folklore in September | Traditions in September | Festivals in September | Harvest festivals in September | Michaelmas Day | Lammas | Poems in September | via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

Presently July 2021

Presently July 2021

The summer morn is bright and fresh,

the birds are darting by

As if they loved to breast the breeze that sweeps the cool clear sky

William C. Bryant (1794-1878)

… and it is the favourite month for picnics and ice cream

Welcome to July e-column…

About the month of July

July is the second month of summer and is on average the hottest month in the northern hemisphere! In the southern hemisphere, July is the second of the winter months, equivalent to January in the northern hemisphere.

July means summer holidays and longer days are here! Schools are nearing the end of their academic year with summer break just around the corner and families planning their summer vacation.

Longer warm days are here too, with the month dedicated to picnics along with the official ice cream day to look forward to :). Besides fun days, July brings celebrations, typical Dog Days of Summer and this year in 2021, the greatest all time favourite sports of UEFA Euro 2020 and The Championships Wimbledon! An awesome month of July 2021 indeed!

A quick look at the History of ‘July’

Unlike the months of May and June that are named after Greek goddesses, July has its origins in a mortal who ruled an empire. Julius Caesar was a Roman general, statesman, a historian turned dictator and reformed the Roman calendar. He was assassinated in a legendary fashion during Ides of March.

Julius Caesar is responsible for the calendar as we know it today – twelve months, 365 days and a leap year every 4 years based on the Earth’s revolutions around the Sun. However, the Julian calendar was inaccurate with some missing days. The Gregorian calendar which we now follow was born in 1582 to correct these inaccuracies.

As we know, July is the seventh month of the year but in the Roman times, it was the fifth month and was called ‘Quintilius’ which means ‘fifth’. The month was renamed ‘Julius’ in honour of Caesar who was born on 12 July.

The Anglo-Saxons called the month of July ‘Heymonath’ which refer to ‘haymaking’ or ‘Maed monath’ that refers to the ‘flowering of meadows’.

Birthstone

The July birthstone is the ‘ruby’. Rubies are believed to protect the wearer from evil.

The word ‘ruby’ is derived from the Latin word ‘rubeus’ which means ‘red’. High quality rubies are transparent, vibrant, purplish red. Cloudier rubies are less valuable.

Birthflower

The birth flowers for the month of July are the ‘larkspur’ and the stunningly beautiful ‘water lily’.

Larkspur generally symbolises good luck, laughter and lightness. The white form is a symbol of lightheartedness; pink means fickleness and purple is for first love.

The majestic water lily‘ instantly enhances a quiet pond or lake with its colourful flowers and beautifully shaped leaves.

The starry flowers and uniquely shaped leaves float placidly on water while deeply rooted in mud below. Water lily bloom in a range of colours from spring through to autumn. The stay rooted in the mud over winter and regrow the following year. It’s leaves can be rounded, star-shaped, jagged or straight.

The ‘water lily’ represents  innocence, purity, fertility, pleasure, celebration, hope, rebirth, wellness, and peace in many ancient cultures. In particular, the flower is associated with re-birth in Buddhism and Hinduism because they close-up in winter and re-open in spring. Besides its religious meaning, water lily is generally a symbol of all that is true, good and beautiful, representing good fortune, peace and enlightenment. 


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Traditions

The UK is no stranger to traditions often celebrated with festivals and regatta. With summer sunshine well underway in July, the month has a number of festivals to look forward to. Here are four that are popular:

1 | Henley Royal Regatta

It has been a tradition since 1839 where the Henley Royal Regatta takes place during the first week of July. The Regatta started on a single afternoon of rowing and now, over five days. The rowing takes place on a stretch of River Thames at Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. However, this year the event is scheduled to take place in Henley from Wednesday, 11 to Sunday, 15 August 2021.

2 | Swan Upping

Swan Upping is the annual census of swans that takes place on River Thames in July. Swans are counted and marked on a seventy mile journey over five days up the Thames.

3 | Whitstable Oyster Festival and St James’ Day

The Whitstable Oyster Festival traditionally falls on July 25. It is the accepted day for the festival in conjunction with the feast day of St James of Compostella, who is the patron saint of oysters.

The town of Whitstable on the north coast of Kent is associated with oysters for hundreds of years. Relying on customs and traditions, the festival has evolved from year to year, while retaining its individual character and continues on till today. The roots of the festival goes back to Norman times. Whitstable was an established fishing port and it was customary then for the fishermen to celebrate with an annual thanksgiving ceremony.

4 | Haymaking

We have all heard the phrase and the wisdom associated with – “to make hay while the sun shines” – to make the most use of a favourable situation while it lasts. It can’t be truer when it comes to haymaking!

July is the month for haymaking!. All across the country, hay is being cut.

To make hay, the field is cut.  The grass spread, and turned over three or four times until it is dry. Then it is rowed up, baled and put in a barn as quickly as possible before the rain comes. The process can take up to a week. If it rains in the middle of the process, the hay must be left in the field until the sun comes out to dry it off.

Lores, sayings and poems in July

1 | St Swithin’s Day

St Swithin’s Day takes place on 15 July each year. According to traditional folklore, whatever the weather is on the day, it will be so for the next 40 days and 40 nights!

An old poem on this legend goes like this:

“St Swithin’s Day, if it does rain

Full forty days, it will remain

St Swithin’s Day, if it be fair

For forty days, t’will rain no more”

And the story…

St Swithin born around the year 800 and became the Bishop of Winchester. He requested that, upon his death his remains be buried outside in a simple tomb “where the sweet rain of heaven may fall upon my grave”. According to legend, when his remains were moved inside the Cathedral, there was a great storm. It rained for many days and weeks thereafter.

As the old saying goes, if it rains on St Swithin’s Day, it will rain for the next forty days and forty nights. If St Swithin’s Day is dry, the next forty days and forty nights will also be dry.

Not sure if any one takes the prediction literally but according to weather experts there is no statistical evidence to support forty days dry or forty rainy days following July 15 since records began in 1861.

2 | Poems in July

“Answer July—
Where is the Bee—
Where is the Blush—
Where is the Hay?

Ah, said July—
Where is the Seed—
Where is the Bud—
Where is the May—
Answer Thee—Me—”

Emily Dickinson, “Answer July”

“Hot July brings cooling showers,
Apricots and gillyflowers.” 

Sara Coleridge, “Pretty Lessons in Verse”

“The Summer looks out from her brazen tower,

Through the flashing bars of July.” 

Francis Thompson, “A Corymbus for Autumn”

“The serene philosophy of the pink rose is steadying.  Its fragrant, delicate petals open fully and are ready to fall, without regret or disillusion, after only a day in the sun.  It is so every summer.  One can almost hear their pink, fragrant murmur as they settle down upon the grass: ‘Summer, summer, it will always be summer.'”

Rachel Peden

3 | Other folklores associated with the month of July

Ne’er trust a July sky.

If ant hills are high in July, the coming winter will be hard.

No tempest, good July, Lest the corn look ruely.

Whatever July and August do not boil, September can not fry.

Celebrations in the month of July

canada.day.presently.july.2021

July 1 is the National Day of Canada. It celebrates the anniversary of July 1, 1867, the effective date of the Constitution Act.

alice.in.wonderland.july.summer.2021

Annual celebration of the much loved classic children’s book – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

july 4th | presently July 2021

July 4 is the American Independence Day. A national holiday celebrating the anniversary of July 4, 1776, the day on which the original 13 colonies of the United States declared independence from British rule.

chocolate.summer.july.2021

World Chocolate Day July 7 2021 – Celebrating all things chocolate! 🙂

wembley.stadium

July 11 2021. The UEFA EURO 2020 final takes place on Sunday 11 July kicking off at 21:00 CET postponed from 12 July 2020. Wembley will also host the semi-finals on Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 July.

bastille.day

July 14 2021 – Celebrating French Independence. Bastille Day is a holiday celebrating the storming of the Bastille, military fortress and prison which took place on July 14, 1789. A violent uprising that helped usher in the French Revolution.

olympic.summer.2021

The Olympics – the world’s biggest sporting event, held every four years. Scheduled to be held from July 23 through to August 8 2021.

Postponed from 2020, this time it will be held in Tokyo Japan.

National Picnic Month

July was founded as the National Picnic Month by the American Bakers’ Association in 1952. It seems perfectly understandable why the month is dedicated to picnics. The warm air, bright blue cloudless skies stirs up the appetite. Garden vegetables, fruits, cheese and pickles make outdoor eating easier. With longer days, there’s no rush to head home but to enjoy the warmth of the sun for as long as it affords you to.

The word ‘picnic’ is derived from the French word, ‘piquenique’ which originated around the 17th or 18th century. It means a social gathering where each one bring some food to share in a leisurely style of eating – sort of 18th century al fresco French dining. A bottle of wine, loaf of bread, lots of cheese and fruits for a leisurely meal under the blue sky.

And the best of July must surely be the National Ice Cream Day!

National Ice Cream Day is celebrated every third Sunday in July which means it is July 18 this year. A day is decreed as National Ice Cream Day by President Reagan in 1984 by describing ice cream as ‘‘a nutritious and wholesome food enjoyed by over ninety percent of the people in the United States.’’ The US still lead the way in the consumption of this delightful frozen treat but it has sparked cravings world over and is celebrated annually.


Recap since June e-column

Here are all the articles published in June and the latest in July if you have missed them:

city walking tours in Amsterdam
Royal Windsor Steam Express - Unique train travel | Scenic train journeys in UK
cycling in Amsterdam
Amsterdam by bike
canal biking in Amsterdam
Delicious Dutch culture food in Amsterdam
10 practical travel information for Amsterdam
Explore Amsterdam with superb value I Amsterdam City Card
best food walking tour in Amsterdam
Presently June 2021
Surinamese cuisine in Amsterdam
Ouderkerk aan de Amstel - Amsterdam
Best of England UK
June 18 2021
Ultimate guide to the best of Amsterdam


Summer 2021 seems so different from the last. Crowded beaches, busy parks and cities are alive again, with so many of us out and about basking in the summer sunshine. The longer days are so welcoming and the warm sun just livens up a dull moment.

Whatever you get up to this July, remember your scoop on the wafer cone and time in the parks.

Till next time.

xoxo


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Month of July | Why is July important | What is special about July | Origins of July | July birthstone | July birth flower | Water lily | Presently July 2021 | Celebrations in July | National Picnic Month | Ice Cream Day | Haymaking in July | Ruby July birthstone | Pems of July | Folklores of July | Festivals in July | Henley Royal Regatta | World Chocolate Day | 4th July American Independence Day | Canada Day | St Swithins Day | Whitstable Oyster Festival | Larkspur | Julius Caesar | Gregorian Calendar via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/Month of July | Why is July important | What is special about July | Origins of July | July birthstone | July birth flower | Water lily | Presently July 2021 | Celebrations in July | National Picnic Month | Ice Cream Day | Haymaking in July | Ruby July birthstone | Pems of July | Folklores of July | Festivals in July | Henley Royal Regatta | World Chocolate Day | 4th July American Independence Day | Canada Day | St Swithins Day | Whitstable Oyster Festival | Larkspur | Julius Caesar | Gregorian Calendar via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

Presently June 2021

Presently June 2021

It is the month of June,

The month of leaves and roses,

When pleasant sights salute the eyes,

And pleasant scents the noses.

– N.P. Willis (1807-67)

…. and it is the favourite month for weddings

Welcome to June’s e-column…

About the month of June

June means Summer is here! A time where things really begin to get into full swing with beautiful bouquets, delicious fruits and vegetables. Each day lasting a little bit longer and summer evenings become a treat to look forward to with the undeniable urge to get out there and enjoy the sunshine. This is not the case if you live in the southern hemisphere though. In the southern hemisphere, June is just about the time when winter starts to set in, the days are shorter and nights become cooler and fresher. Wherever you are in the world, June marks the first half of the year is here and the next six months to look forward to.

History of ‘June’

June is the sixth month in our modern day Gregorian Calendar and it was the sixth month in the Julian calendar as well. This was not always the case. June was the fourth month of the year in the earlier Roman calendar and the year was made of 10 months – all these before Julius Caesar came to power. Then, around 46 BC, the Julian Calendar was born when two months were added to the year, making it 12 months in length and June became the sixth month with 30 days.

Origins of ‘June’

There are a couple of theories on how the name ‘June’ came about. One theory rests upon the Latin word, ‘juvenis’ meaning ‘young people’ who were celebrated during this month. Another theory, and I am much inclined to accept this one is that the month was named after the Roman goddess of marriage and well-being of women, Juno.

The Anglo-Saxons called the month of June, sera monath, meaning “dry month.”

Why is the month of June popular for weddings?

Traditionally, June was the month to marry.

It was the belief that goddess Juno, for whom the month of June is named was the protector of women in all aspects of life, especially so in marriage and in childbearing. Therefore, a wedding in June was considered most auspicious.

June weddings also comes from the Celtic calendar. On the Cross-Quarter Day of Beltane, (May Day, May 1), young couples were paired off for three months. If their courtship lasted the duration, they would wed on the next Cross-Quarter Day (Lammas Day, August 1). However, the waiting period was shortened and the couples would wed in June, thereby bringing about the popularity of June weddings.

Aside from traditions, June makes a perfect month to marry because the weather is better, more predictable (less rain) and makes it easier for guests to travel to get to the wedding venue.

June birthstone

June’s birthstone is generally considered to be the Pearl, along with Alexandrite and Moonstone. Pearl is by far the most popular of the three. With their natural beauty, pearls have been beloved for centuries.

Pearls are associated with purity, honesty and calmness. It is said that if you dream of a pearl ring, then expect romance to come your way. The ancient Greeks believed that pearls were the tears of joy from the goddess of love, Aphrodite. The ancient Egyptians associated pearls with Isis, the goddess of healing and life.

This natural gem with exquisite white lustre, has a demure glow, and create a look that’s simple, elegant and appropriate for any occasion.

Alexandrite – an extremely rare gem that changes colour. In the daylight, it is blueish green and becomes purplish red in incandescent light.

Moonstone – a gem that shimmers like moonlight. The clearer the gem, and bluer the sheen, the more valuable it is.

June birthflower

Presently June 2021
Presently June 2021

June’s birth-flowers are the rose and honeysuckle – both associated with all things love, desire, generosity and affection.

Rose – has inspired many poets and painters for centuries and has more symbolic meanings than one can imagine! A pink rose is said to mean ‘happiness’, a red rose means ‘I love you’ while a white rose represents ‘innocence, purity and new beginnings’

Honeysuckle strongly means ‘everlasting bonds of love’

June – Folklore, Festivals, Superstitions & Traditions

Summer solstice

Summer solstice – the longest daylight hours of the year is June 21 or it could be June 22 on a leap year. It is the day when the sun is at the most northerly point which creates “the longest day” of the year.

Summer solstice is celebrated at Stonehenge, Wiltshire to a great extend. Thousands gather to watch the sunrise on this special day of the year with cheering and revelling. Stonehenge is a sacred place for the Druid and pagan community who perform rituals, invoking a great sense of awe and humility.

Read > Stonehenge – A Sophisticated Architecture. Learn more about summer solstice celebrations along with the possible theories surrounding the construction of these huge stones which have stood there for thousands of years and no one knows how it got there!

Midsummer’s Day

Midsummer’s day comes after the summer solstice, the longest day in the northern hemisphere and the shortest day in the southern hemisphere. which is the middle of summer – on June 24. It is a day associated with witches, magic, fairies and dancing.

Traditionally, on the eve of Midsummer’s day, many bonfires were lit all around the country. This was done in praise of the sun, as the days were getting shorter and the sun appeared weaker. So, bonfires were lit to energise the sun.

Superstitions associated with Midsummer’s Day

As we know, roses are special in June. Roses were even more special on the eve of Midsummer’s Day. Superstition has it that any rose picked on the eve of Midsummer’s Day will keep fresh until Christmas. It has also been said at midnight on Midsummer’s Eve, girls should scatter rose petals before them and, the next day their true love will visit them.

Well Dressing

Presenly June 2021 | Well Dressing
© Well Dressing Derbyshire

There are ceremonies called ‘Well Dressing’ that takes place at various times during June as well as throughout summer. Wells of fresh water and springs that come from underground streams have always been considered special, so some wells are decorated with greenery and beautiful pictures of flowers and moss.

Some Well Dressing events for 2021 are cancelled but you could look up locations via Derbyshire Well Dressing link for a future visit.

Weather-lore and sayings

‘A calm June puts the farmer in tune’

‘June damp and warm, does the farmer no harm’

Recap of what has been happening since May e-column

The month of May flew by very quickly – with more walks in the local country parks, trips local and away, and birthdays to celebrate, along with more writing on the city of canals. Here are all the articles written and published in the month of May and up to the latest in June:

Surinamese cuisine in Amsterdam
3rd June 2021
Ouderkerk aan de Amstel - Amsterdam
1st June 2021
Amsterdam Bos Netherlands
30th May 2021
Amsterdam Uithoorn
27th May 2021
Amsterdam | See and Do | rent a bike
24th May 2021
Stroopwafels in Amsterdam
22nd May 2021
Schiphol Airport to Amsterdam City
13th May 2021
Amsterdam Airport Express Bus 397
11th May 2021
Amsterdam City and Regional Public Transport Travel Pass
11th May 2021
best value public transport ticket for Amsterdam
8th May 2021
Amsterdam Inspiration - Travel quotes and sayings
6th May 2021
Lady Arbella Stuart | History
2nd May 2021

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On a final note…

The month of June is an interesting one and certainly made me smile when I stumbled upon the lore on the rose petals in my research. I must admit, I did not know very much about the Well Dressing festival or how widely it is celebrated still in modern day , so I hope to make it to one of the festivals next year. As well, what a beautiful portrayal of the priceless jewel, pearls – a natural gem every girl should be bestowed with along with roses of all colours 🙂

I am hopeful that the month of June henceforth will bring good days of warmer sunshine and will make exploring UK possible. I have a few trips planned this summer, bbq Sundays with family & friends and I look forward to some relaxing ‘me’ time.

Whatever you get up to, have a splendid rest of the month of June.

Till next time,

xoxo

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June is a time where things really begin to get into full swing with beautiful scents and longer summer evenings - but there is more to the month of June...birthstones, flowers, lores and traditions. Read on and find out what they are. via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/June is a time where things really begin to get into full swing with beautiful scents and longer summer evenings - but there is more to the month of June...birthstones, flowers, lores and traditions. Read on and find out what they are. via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

Presently May 2021

Presently May 2021

As the first day of May dawns, it begins with celebration of May Day that dates back to ancient times. Rich in folklores of maypoles, Morris dancing and May queens, the day is now known as Labour Day or International Workers Day. The day also marks the mid-point to summer in the northern hemisphere, and the beginning of autumn in southern hemisphere. The beautiful month of May ushers in longer and warmer days where the fresh cold winds of winter are gone! With birds chirping, rainbow hues of spring flowers everywhere, and right about the time when delicate, beautiful Lily of the Valleys and Hawthorne adorn the grounds, hopeful of joyful, fun and bbq days ahead 🙂

Whilst we work hard to be accurate, and provide the best information as possible, we also encourage you to please always check before heading out.

About the Month of May

May is the fifth month in the Gregorian Calendar, has thirty-one days and is associated with spring in Northern hemisphere and autumn in Southern hemisphere. May 1st is notable for its May Day celebrations – spring celebrations which has its roots in medieval and astronomy. However, May Day has developed into a celebration of workers day worldwide, popularly known as Labor/Labour Day. The day is a public holiday in European countries, the Russian Federation and in some Asian countries. In USA, Canada and Australia, the date is said to vary.

In UK, the first Monday in May has been a bank holiday in Scotland since 1871. The early bank holiday Monday in May was only introduced to the rest of UK in 1978.

Origins of ‘May’

May is named after the Greek fertility goddess, Maia who was celebrated for the growth of plants. The month is a time for great celebrations in the the northern hemisphere as it is the time of ‘rebirth’ where the flowers begin to bloom and crops begin to sprout.

The Anglo-Saxon called the month of May, ‘Tri-Milchi’ because with the lush new grass meant that the cows could be milked three times a day! The month was first referred as ‘May’ in about 1430s. Prior to this, the month was Maius, Mayes or Mai.

May birthstone

May birthdays fall right in the heart of spring and those born in this special month can proudly call Emerald as their birthstone. Emerald carries a rich green colour of spring and radiates a beautiful and brilliant tone. Emerald, derived from the word “smaragdus,” means, quite literally, “green” in Greek. A symbol of ‘rebirth’. Emerald is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth.

May birth flower

May adorns us with the delicate and sweet scent of Lily of the Valley and Hawthorn as its birth flower. There are many myths and legends surrounding these flowers.

Lily of the Valley

Lily-of the-Valley are one of the most fragrant blooming plants that has been around since at least 1000 B.C. This spring flower is a moisture loving, woodland flowering plant. They are sweetly scented, nodding and bell-shaped white flowers. The stems are of medium bright green. Lily of the Valley flowers grows easily and are native throughout cool temperate northern hemisphere. Red seed pods remains after flowering which makes Lily of the Valley attractive after blooming and very carefree.

With its delicate flowers and sweet scent, Lily of the Valley is a favourite of many. The flowers are a special favourite of royal brides.

There are many myths and legends that surrounds the origins of Lily of the Valley. Here are just two:

Some say that the Lily of the Valley appeared when Eve’s tears fell after she was evicted from the Garden of Eden. Others say that when St Leonard fought a fearless fight against a dragon, the lilies appeared wherever the brave warrior’s blood fell.

The sweetly scented Lily of the Valley is said to symbolise humility, sweetness and the return of happiness – a perfect gift for Mother’s Day should it fall in the month of May.

Hawthorne

Hawthorne hedges have been around since Roman times and are a favourite for bees and about three hundred species of insects. They commonly grow freely in hedgerows, woodland and scrubs. While they grow well in most soil, they flower and fruit best in full sun. Hawthorne are also no stranger to gathering numerous folklore and superstitions.

Hawthorne: pale green leaves, pale pink flowers – sign of spring turning to summer.

Hawthorne fruits known as “Haws”

Hawthorne’s pale green leaves are the first to appear in spring with an explosion of pale pink blossoms in May – a sign that spring is turning to summer. Flowers are highly scented, white or occasionally pink with five petals, and grow in flat-topped clusters. Its fruits, once pollinated by insects, develop into deep-red fruits known as ‘haws’.

The myths and legends surrounding Hawthorne are many and here are two:

Hawthorne is a pagan symbol of fertility and associated to May Day since ancient times. It was used as Maypole and its flowers and leaves were used for May Day garlands and wreaths for the Green Man! Hawthorne is also associated with death and must never be brought into the home. It is believed that Hawthorne blossom inside the house will bring about death, illness and grave misfortune. In medieval times, the smell of Hawthorne flowers was equated to the smell of death, the Great Plague.

Having said that, the following is going to make you smile 🙂 – something that is associated with death, Hawthorne timber is used for making cabinets and veneers as well as boxes, tool handles and boat parts. It also makes good firewood and said to burn to high temperatures. As for the young leaves, flower buds and young flowers – they are all edible! They can be added to salads and the developing flower buds are said to be particularly good, though you are not advised to eat the haws.

About ‘May Day’

In UK, as in most parts of western Europe, May Day marks the end of harsh winter months. Although summer does not officially begin until June but May Day has traditionally been noted as the beginning of summer. May Day celebrations in UK has gone on since Roman times for 2000 years. The Romans celebrated the Festival of Flora, goddess of fruit and flower which marked the beginning of summer. The festival was celebrated from April 28 through to May 3.

Origins of May Day

May Day is said to have its roots in astronomy! The ancient Celts believed that May 1 is the half-way point between spring equinox and summer solstice. The solstices and equinoxes were called “Quarter Days” and the mid-points was called “Cross-Quarter Days” marking the beginning of a season.  Equinoxes, solstices and cross-quarter days are all points of Earth’s orbit around the sun.

May Day Traditions and Celebrations

Many villages across Britain celebrate the ancient spring May Day festivals of maypole, Morris dancing, music and entertainment.

The Maypole Dance

The Maypole Dance has its origins with ancient Celts. The ancient Celts celebrated ‘Beltane’ to mark the peak of spring and the beginning of summer. The word ‘Beltane’ originates from the Celtic word ‘Bel’, meaning ‘the bright one’ and ‘teine’ from the Gaelic word meaning fire. Together they make ‘Bright Fire’, or ‘Goodly Fire’ and traditionally bonfires were lit to honour the Sun. In ancient times, the Celts also danced around a real tree brought-in from the woods, praying for good crops and fertility. The tall tree (pole) usually garlanded with greenery and flowers and hung with ribbons. These ribbons were woven into complex patterns by the dancers. The dances are part of spring rites to ensure fertility.

Watch Beltane Fire Festival Edinburgh Virtually

For the younger generation, maypole day was a day for courtship. If a couple were paired by sundown, then their courtship would continue for six weeks to get to know each other. They will then marry on Midsummer’s Day in June. Maypoles are still part of some village life and villages dance around it.

In some parts of Britain, May 1st is known as Garland Day. Children from English rural villages would parade with garlands of flowers, sometimes fastened to a stick.

Morris Dancing

Beltane Border Morris Dance

Another tradition that is seen throughout May is Morris Dancing. This is a traditional English form of folk dancing performed by a group of men or women. Morris Dancing has been performed for hundreds of years in villages of rural England and passed down from generation to generation. They wear different colours of clothes depending on which part of the country they come from. There are several thoughts as to its origin and is believed to have originated from the Moors of North Africa. Many different groups perform Morris Dancing at the Medway Sweeps Festival.

Learn more about Morris Dancing > Morris Ring, Tradition and History

Other festivals, traditions and celebrations

Although the May Day celebrations had been observed for centuries, with even Jack-in-the-Green making an appearance in Hastings and May Queen being crowned, but over time, the celebrations have altered from their ancient folk roots, becoming more centred towards their own communities, while still embracing their traditions. If you would like to attend one such festival, look up some of the following best traditional May Day events:

The Clun Green Man Festival, Shropshire | Beltane Fire Festival, Edinburgh >> Watch it Virtually | Jack-in-the-Green Festival, Hastings | Helston Flora and Furry Dance, Cornwall

May Day Superstition

First thing in the morning of the 1st day of May, young girls rush out to the garden to wash their face in the morning May dew. The reason being – there is an old tale that says there are magical properties in the May dew, that anyone who washed their face in it will have a beautiful complexion all through the year. This dew is supposed to remove freckles and pimples.

Interesting customs in May

Oak Apple Day

Oak Apple Day or ‘Pinch Bum Day’ takes place on May 29, and is a day where traditionally people wear oak apples or oak leaves pinned to them. This is to remember that on May 29, King Charles II returned safely to London, triumphantly restoring the monarchy in 1660. It became customary for people to wear the oak apple or oak leaves to show support for the King who took refuge in an oak tree, escaping his captors. Until the 20th century, anyone caught not wearing an oak apple or an oak leave could be punished.

Arbor Tree Day

Arbor Day is the last Sunday in May. In Aston-on-Clun, Shropshire, a large tree in the centre of the village is decorated with flags. The flags stay on the tree until the following May.

According to legend, the local landowner, John Marston married on May 29, 1786. He and his bride were passing through the village when the villages were celebrating Arbor Day. His bride thought that the tree looked so beautiful covered in flags that she gave money to the village so the custom would continue. This tradition has been observed today.

Rhymes, Quotes and Sayings about the month of May

The month of May is the pleasant time; its face is beautiful; the blackbird sings his full song, the living wood is his holding, the cuckoos are singing and ever singing; there is a welcome before the brightness of the summer.

Lady Gregory

In the marvellous month of May when all the buds were bursting, then in my heart did love arise. In the marvellous month of May when all the birds were singing, then did I reveal to her my yearning and longing.

Heinrich Heine

Another May new buds and flowers shall bring: Ah! Why has happiness no second Spring?

Charlotte Smith


Recap of what has been happening since April e-column

With the onset of brighter and warmer days, April was a beautiful month to get out and about, to enjoy the sunshine, exploring local country park and on long walks to burn-off that winter “gain”. It is also time to awaken my favourite friend, Canon that had slept a little while under the silken dust. Somehow, all things seem possible in the month of May.

On the writing front, the Tower of London and related articles on History of Britain series is now complete, for the moment at least and Easy Sunday Read will return in fall, September 5th. There’s more to look forward to on the Tower and History of Britain which I hope to share in the future. April was also a month to catch-up on Europe – more travel inspiration can be found on Amsterdam. In case you missed April’s publications, these are listed below:


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On a final note…

I hope that you have enjoyed reading about the month of May – I certainly enjoyed the research and learning about the superstitions and folklores associated with May. Lily of the Valley is one of my favourite spring flowers but nothing beats the bright daffodils for me! I never knew about the associated tales with Hawthorne and now I do. As the days are longer and warmer, I look forward to weekends with family and friends, BBQ Sundays and red wine – I think it is possible to do all of these this summer.

Whatever you get up to, have a splendid rest of the month of May.

Till next time,

Georgina xoxo


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Presently May 2021
Presently May 2021
Presently May 2021

Presently May 2021 first published at timelesstravelsteps.com

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As May dawns, the month brings superstitions, folklores, festivals and brighter, longer days ... learn more about the Month of May via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/As May dawns, the month brings superstitions, folklores, festivals and brighter, longer days ... learn more about the Month of May via @GGeorgina_timelesstravelsteps/

Presently April 2021

Presently April 2021

Presently April, the month that begins with fun and jokes, a custom that has gone on for hundreds of years. The Cuckoo signals the spring, although spring has officially been onboard as of 1 March. The trees and plants starts “to open” and begin to grow with brighter and clearer days (hopefully!) in the northern hemisphere. The grass grows green and charming daisies bloom here and there which is also right about the time when the Easter bunny makes an appearance. In the midst of cheerful, bright and clear days, the month brings April rains which calls for umbrellas and rain boots as well.

More about ‘April’

History of ‘April’

Well, as we know, the month of April is the fourth month of the year and consist of thirty days. However, this was not always the case. In early Roman calendar, April was the second month and consisted of twenty-nine days. Then it became the fourth month consisting of twenty-nine days when January was designated the first month in the calendar – this took place around 450BC. Then, the 30th day was added by Julius Caesar when he established the new calendar.

Today, April remains the fourth month of the year with thirty days in the Gregorian calendar. The month is associated with spring in the Northern hemisphere while it is autumn in the Southern hemisphere.

Not sure if you noticed – the month of April starts on the same day of the week as July and ends on the same day of the week as December in common years. When in leap years, April starts on the same day of the week as January.

Origins of ‘April’

No one really knows how the name ‘April’ originated but it is believed that it derived from the Latin word, aperit which means “to open”. Aptly named because April is the growing season and trees and flowers begin “to open.” April is also believed to be named after the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.

The Anglo-Saxon named the month Eostre monath or Eastremonath because the Christian festival, Easter is celebrated during April. Easter is often regarded a moveable feast because the date is set according to the moon. Easter Sunday could be the first Sunday after the full moon, which means Easter can be as early as March 22 or April 25. This year, Easter was celebrated on April 4, 2021.

April Fool’s Day

The month begins with April Fool’s Day. It has been a custom where the first day of the month is a day of fun and silly jokes. No one knows how it began but it has gone on for hundreds of years.

April Fool's Day quote

The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.”

Mark Twain

The Cuckoo in UK

April column

Listen out to the spring time call of the cuckoo, sometime mid-April when they return from Africa to start their nesting behaviour. Traditionally, the first cuckoo is heard around April 14, St Tiburtius’ Day and sings through to St John’s Day, 24 June. The cuckoo is heard at various places across UK on different dates. The first sighting is often in Isle of Scilly, the far south-west and then gradually moves north. Some places hold cuckoo fairs to welcome spring. There’s a saying that the cuckoo is not heard before Tenbury Fair (21 April) or after Pershore Fair (26 June) in Worcesterhire.

Cuckoo rhyme

Some traditional fairs held as ‘Cuckoo Day’ or ‘Cuckoo Fairs’

Marsden Cuckoo Festival, West Yorkshire – An annual ancient festival of dance, music and sunshine to mark the arrival of spring. Historically takes place on the last Saturday of April;

Heathfield Cuckoo Fair, East Sussex – An annual tradition since 1315 to mark the arrival of spring on the Saturday in late April. “Dame Heffle” releases a cuckoo from her basket to mark this unique event.

Downton Cuckoo Fair, Salisbury, Wiltshire – An annual traditional event to mark “opening the gate” to let the cuckoo through-first weekend in May.

April birthstone

Those born in the month of April can proudly call one of the world’s most sought-after and adored gemstone, diamond as their birthstone. The name ‘diamond’ comes from the Greek word, “adamas” which means “invincible” or “unbreakable”. The gem symbolises inner strength, and clarity. It is thought that the wearer benefits from balance and abundance.

April’s birth flower

By April, spring is (should be) in full swing and April’s birth flowers begin to make their presence known. April’s birth flowers are the daisy and the sweet pea.

Daisy

Daisies - Spring here, there and everywhere
Regent’s Park London | Daisy – springs up here, there and everywhere

The all too familiar rhyme of “he loves me, he loves me not” is associated with Daisy, a flower that is said to convey innocence, loyal love and purity. Yet, it is a flower given between friends to keep a secret – it means “I’ll never tell”

daisy.april.flower.colours

There are about twenty-five varieties of colourful Daisy but the most well known one is our humble common daisy or the Oxeye daisy – white and yellow flower heads brightening up paths, verges and lawns here, there, everywhere. Perhaps the following poem sums up the best of Daisy:

There is a flower, Innocent and bright, Silver crest and goldeneye, sweetly simple and charming;

Standing tall, out of a sky of green, springing up here and there;

It tells you of sunny times, and gay meadows; Where water, wind and birdsong sings a soothing symphony, to calm the hurt of times gone by;

So, as daisies bloom, here, there and everywhere – it speaks of hope, a unique melody;

In the midst of simplicity, where it stands up, like a star – Innocent and bright eyed.

G.D

Sweet pea

April birth flower - sweet pea
April birth flower – sweet pea
April birth flower - sweet pea
April birth flower – sweet pea

The other of April birth flower is the sweet pea – a climbing plant that bear clusters of flowers in a wide variety of beautiful vibrant colours including red, pink, blue, white, and lavender along with intense fragrance. They have a long season of bloom and make excellent cut flowers.

Sweet pea originated in the southwest of Italy and the Mediterranean islands, eventually cultivated as garden flowers in 17th century. They lend a cottage feel to gardens and often grown on bamboo tripods.

There’s a beautiful poem by Alfred Noyes that says all about Sweet Pea:

Under the sweet-peas I stood
And drew deep breaths, they smelt so good.
Then, with strange enchanted eyes,
I saw them change to butterflies.

Higher than the skylark sings
I saw their fluttering crimson wings
Leave their garden-trellis bare
And fly into the upper air.

Standing in an elfin trance
Through the clouds I saw them glance….
Then I stretched my hands up high
And touched them in the distant sky.

At once the coloured wing came back
From wandering in the zodiac.
Under the sweet-peas I stood
And drew deep breaths. They smelt so good.

by Alfred Noyes

April astronomy – Super Full Pink Moon April 2021

Catch a glimpse of the first of the two supermoons in 2021 in the northern hemisphere. The supermoon in April is traditionally known as Pink Moon.

Learn more about lunar phases, supermoons and more from Royal Museums Greenwich | Visit Greenwich, a historical town where Time began

UK readers – venture outside on the night/early hours of Tuesday 27 April, 2021 when the full pink moon is expected to peak at 04:31. However, the moon shall be visible after sunset and you can follow its progress and watch it peak at 4:31 a.m.

USA readers – venture outside on the night of Monday 26 April 2021. The super Pink Moon is visible after sunset and is said to peak at 11:33 p.m. EDT.

Origins of full moon names

The full moon names have several sources. They came from Native Americans, Colonial Americans and European sources.

Time was not recorded using months in accordance with Julian or Gregorian calendar by the early Native Americans. Tribes gave each full moon a nickname to keep track of time and lunar months. Most of these names relate to an activity or an event that took place at a specific location. As one can imagine, there was no uniformity of a “system” as tribes named and counted moons differently. For example, some counted four seasons in a year while others said five. A year was defined as twelve moons while some said there were thirteen!

Although the “system” lacked uniformity, the Colonial Americans adopted some of the moon names and applied them to their own calendar system, hence their present existence.

Why is the April full moon called the “Pink Moon”

Phlox Subulata | April
Phlox Subulata also known as Pink Moss
Phlox in various colours
Phlox in various colours

However, as mystical as the April full moon name may seem, the super Pink Moon in April is not pink!. It was named by the Native Americans after the pink wildflowers which appear around this time in North America, called Phlox Subulata. This pink bloom is native to eastern North America and is also known as moss pink. Another name to given to Pink Moon is Egg Moon because of egg-laying season in spring, while the coastal tribe named the April moon as Fish Moon, referring to the shad swimming upstream around this time.

April Meteor showers

April is a great month to spot some spectacular night sky displays, gracing us with bright and fast meteors. Associated with Comet Thatcher, these meteors come with trains and are at their optimum on 22 April 2021. You could also witness them from 13 April through to 29 April.

Meteor showers make great photography opportunity if you want to capture that milky way! :). Learn more on > How to spot a meteor shower.

April rhymes

April is no stranger to rhymes and there are just one too many to share here but here are three that you may like.

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.

You know how it is with an April day.

When the sun is out and the wind is still,

You’re one month on in the middle of May.

But if you so much as dare to speak,

a cloud come over the sunlit arch,

And wind comes off a frozen peak,

And you’re two months back in the middle of March.”

–  Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time, 1926 

Oh, how fresh the wind is blowing!

See! The sky is bright and clear,

Oh, how green the grass is growing!

April! April! Are you here?

Dora R. Goodale (1866-1953)

April cold with dripping rain,

Willows and lilacs brings again,

The whistle of returning birds,

And trumpet-lowing of the herds.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

April in history

Famous people born in April – Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci

The ship Titanic hit an iceberg and sank on its first and only voyage – 15 April 1912.

George Washington became the first President of the United States of America on 30 April 1789.

The explosion of Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine forced everyone within a 300-mile radius to be evacuated – 26 April 1986.

First Olympics of the modern age took place on 6 April 1896 – after 1500 years.

For all Mustang lovers – Ford unveiled its first Mustang 17 April 1964 for $2368!


Recap of what has been going on so far since March e-column

March had been a busy month – with Lent, Mothering Sunday, spring cleaning, writing and nature walks – not sure where the month had gone!!

On the writing front, there were Easy Sunday Read articles along with travel articles on Isle of Wight, one of England’s haven. As well, a couple of articles on English Heritage, an excellent value for money Pass to visit some of the most iconic of England’s priceless sites for a small fee. Please find all of these articles below, if you had missed them previously:

What to look forward in April

There are couple more related articles on History of Britain and the Tower which will come your way this month as easy Sunday read before this part of the series is concluded. As travel within UK is looking likely in the coming months, there are some articles on Isle of Wight which will be in your inbox as well. If you are planning to travel abroad, please visit Best offer on Winter Sun and Summers at the Beach for some impressive value for money travel offers.

On a final note…

We know “April showers bring May flowers,” – if April rains ever gets you down, remember the silver lining round the corner! Look forward to sharing more in May.

Have an awesome month of April!

Georgina xx

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Presently April 2021
Presently April 2021
Presently April 2021