May is the fifth month of the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Some sources say May was named after Maia, a Roman earth goddess of growing plants. The important festival of Bona Dea, or celebration of the Good Goddess, was held in May. Other sources site Ovid, who wrote May was named after Maiores, Latin for “elders”. May is devoted to the Virgin Mary in the Catholic church, and there are monthly devotions to her. May is also a month of spring and the start of summer vacation in the United States and Canada.
May 1 is Beltane or May Day, which is celebrated in many countries as well as in the neopagan religion. In Ireland, it is the first day of summer and celebrated as a public holiday. Other traditions include bonfires and picking spring flowers and putting them on neighbor’s doorsteps. In Britain, traditional May Day celebrations include Morris Dancing and dancing around a maypole. A May Queen is also elected from the young ladies in the community, who walks at May Day parade.
May’s birthstone is the emerald, symbolizing love and success. It’s flowers are the lily of the valley and the hawthorn. The signs of the zodiac are Taurus, until May 20, and Gemini, for the rest of the month.