May is most likely named after Maia, the ancient Roman goddess of growth. It’s the last month of spring. The weather is usually warm and the evenings are light. A lot of trees are in blossom, and gardeners are busy in their gardens because everything grows so fast during this month. Birds can be seen collecting food for their babies and you might see young animals in the fields such as foals and calves.
The first day of May is known as May Day but it isn’t always a holiday. Instead, the first Monday of May is a holiday, called the May Day Bank Holiday or Early May Bank Holiday. For most people, it’s just a day off work or school and a chance to enjoy having a long weekend. In some places, especially villages, there are still some traditional May Day celebrations. The best known is maypole dancing. A maypole is a tall wooden pole which has ribbons attached to the top. The dancers, often children, each take a ribbon and dance around the pole and this causes the ribbons to make patterns around the pole. Sometimes a girl is chosen to be the May Queen. She wears a white dress and a crown made of flowers. There might also be other types of dancing and traditional music.
The last Monday in May is also a holiday, called the Spring Bank Holiday or Late May Bank Holiday. Its origins are related to the church calendar but it no longer has any religious significance. It’s just another long weekend for most people and the start of the half-term holiday for schools. In England, the school year is divided into three terms and there is a one-week break in the middle of each one, called half-term.
The Chelsea Flower Show takes place every year towards the end of May. This is a five-day garden show that has happened in London for over a hundred years. Thousands of people visit, including members of the royal family, and it’s also shown on television. Visitors can enjoy beautifully designed gardens which have been created by famous gardeners, and see new plants from all over the world.
May is an important month for English football. The FA Cup (formally known as the Football Association Challenge Cup) is an annual football competition between English football teams, which runs from August to May. It’s also the oldest national football competition in the world. The final takes place in May and the winners go on to play in the UEFA Europa League. At the end of the season, the best-performing football teams are promoted to a higher league while the bottom teams are relegated to a lower league. There has also been a women’s FA Cup since 1970, which runs at the same time as the men’s.
Let me end by telling you about a day that’s just for fun. May 4th is known to science fiction fans as Star Wars Day! This is because the date, “May the fourth” sounds like a famous line from the Star Wars films, “May the Force be with you!” People who love Star Wars greet each other on this day, saying, “May the Fourth be with you!” They may watch some of the films and some fans might even dress up in Star Wars costumes.
If you would like to learn more about English life, try my e-book, "A Year in England". It contains a text like this for each month, plus a vocabulary list and reading comprehension questions. There are also bonus sections about Christmas and Easter. Click the image below or visit my shop.
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