May Day: Innocent Field Day or Sex Fest?

When people talk about British passion, they’re usually referring to a whirling ball of knuckles and soccer appreciation. However, there’s a secret side to the Brits that not everybody knows about– and that’s that they love them some sexy sexy sexin’. France may be the home of great romance, and Italy the home of great passion, but when it comes to some sordid slap n’ tickle and a bit of how’s yer father behind the bike sheds, the Brits are as enthusiastic as they are indecipherable. Don’t believe us? Then you obviously haven’t witnessed the celebration of May Day.

The Season of Sexy Times

If you can think of something better to celebrate than this, then you're welcome to it.

If you can think of something better to celebrate than this, then you’re welcome to it.

May is traditionally the time to celebrate fertility and copulation. The long hard winter is over, gone are the rainy months, and summer is on its way– and so British genitals, long since blue-tinged and retracted, are once again safe to emerge like a rabbit from its burrow to see the lush, green lands of a world awoken anew. And hopefully not a policeman. Such has it been since the dawn of written history, going back to druidic times when it was known as Beltane, a time when the Gaelic people would celebrate the coming of summer by lighting a big ass bonfire, because what else were they going to do, really?

Gathering The May

 "Sit down, Suzie. We're going to have an uncomfortable discussion about symbolism."

“Sit down, Suzie. We’re going to have an uncomfortable discussion about symbolism.”

In more modern times, lady-Brits would prepare for the day of celebration by rising early and washing in the May-dew, probably in slow motion. Then people would gather flowers and tree branches to decorate their villages, called Gathering the May, the results of which were sometimes called a May Bush, because the best kind of metaphor is a heavy-handed metaphor.

The May Pole


Of course, some images lack too much subtlety to even qualify as symbols.

Phallic worship is usually evident in the development of most societies, and it can often be hilarious and not at all intimidating. The origin of the Maypole is hotly debated by the six or seven people who care about such things, but the most solid theory is that it is a big ol’ willy monument for people to dance around, a tradition thought to date back to the Roman worship of the (NSFW unless you work at a May Day party planner’s) god Priapus who, legend has it, was a hoot at parties. The Maypole survives to this day as it was subtle enough to survive the purge of the traditionally uncool puritans, yet unsubtle enough for dirty old men to wink at young ladies and say “Eh? Eh? Phwooooarrr.”

The Hobby Horse

Why is this horse so pleased? It doesn't bear thinking about...

Why is this horse so pleased? It doesn’t bear thinking about…

More regional than national, the men of Cornwall, Britain’s answer to Alabama, celebrate one of May Day’s oldest fertility celebrations; with a man dressed in a highly suspect “‘Obby ‘Oss” blundering through people’s gardens while guys with accordions follow him around. Why is wielding a stick with a horse’s head on the end of it considered sexual? Who in their right mind would concede that accordion music is in any way an aphrodisiac? These questions are by their very nature unanswerable, but one can only imagine the arousal the lady-folk of Cornwall feel when they look out of their window and see something directly from David Lynch’s nightmares grinding across their lawns.

Word has it that those ladies who are taken under the dark cloak of the ‘Oss will be pregnant within the year, which sounds less like folklore and more like a terrible threat.

Morris Dancers

"Okay fellas, has everybody remembered their bell socks? We wouldn't want to look silly out there..."

“Okay fellas, has everybody remembered their bell socks? We wouldn’t want to look silly out there…”

Some people make sport to show their virility. Some people fight. And some people do a little dance with bells and handkerchiefs. These men are Morris Dancers, and don’t be fooled, for these are the most dangerous men of all. These ruddy, often bearded individuals spend most of the year blending into society as though they are normal people, only to explode into loose-knit choreography and raucous yelling whenever they are in the presence of real ale and a hog roast. If somebody remade the Step Up movies to include morris dancing, there’s a good chance the world would end.

How is this clumpy looking dancing in any way connected to fertility? The sticks:

They bang their big ol’ sticks together. Yes that’s symbolism, and yes it wields all the subtlety of a rhino in a gimp mask.

Jumping Off A Bridge?

In some areas of England a more modern “celebration” of May Day involves jumping from a bridge into a river. We’re not really sure how this is in anyway connected with fertility, as people who jump from bridges aren’t usually nature’s most successful breeders. Unless total defiance in the face of Darwinism is considered sexy? Well, yes, that’s probably it, because doing stupid and dangerous things to impress the opposite sex is basically the entire point of youth.


“What’s the big deal about celebrating sex?” You say. “I celebrate sex pretty much every day. In fact, I’m doing it right now in the other browser window.” Well, good for you, but you’re missing the point. This isn’t Spring Break. Sure it’s a celebration of virility and fertility, but it’s an innocent acceptance and acknowledgment of sex without the complication of fetish or neurosis. They may have dressed it up with gods and innuendo, but May Day is basically just a nod of respect to the same natural force that compels a salmon to swim hundreds of miles up stream, or a bird to dance like Prince.

There is poem; “Apples be ripe, Nuts be Brown, Petticoats up and Trousers down.” Which is just a nudgey-winky way of saying; “Sex is perfectly natural, and we should probably get it on before it turns cold again.” And really, can you think of any better reason (or way) to celebrate?

lammascartoon1a 1 May Day: Innocent Field Day or Sex Fest?

We have ALL the magic bread.

Steve Stevenson is the man dry-humping a Hobby Horse on your front lawn. Don’t be alarmed, just draw the curtains and wait quietly. He’ll go away soon. Or you can follow him on Twitter.

All of this can be yours if you just remember to leave the toilet seat down

All of this can be yours if you just remember to leave the toilet seat down.

And if you’re desperate to learn about more British bizarre holidays, you can check out Steve’s What The Heck is Lammas Day? and learn how to win at
The Greatest Holiday in a Married Man’s Life.

More from Steve Wetherell

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