When I was a small girl, I remember my Welsh grandmother getting very upset because I had brought a twig of hawthorn in flower into her house. That incident has stuck in my mind for nearly sixty years and at various times I have burrowed about, trying to find out more about that particular superstition. When I discovered The White Goddess (Robert Graves), I thought I had found the answer, but I am no longer so sure. Even if the hawthorn was sacred to a pre-Christian (and rather bloodthirsty) deity, I still do not understand why my grandmother should get so very upset about the whole thing some time in the early 1950s.
Anyway, today I was wandering around the internet in my by now familiar futile search for useful sites on early Welsh history when I came across something on the celebration of May Day. ttp://www.applewarrior.com/celticwell/ejournal/beltane/wales.htm The site outlined differences in the traditions between North and South Wales, talked about kindling a fire with nine kinds of wood but no metal and described various maypole traditions. But what made me sit up in some excitement was the information that despite traditionally decorating the outside of the house with hawthorn blossom on May Eve, it was unlucky to bring it into the house. No explanation, unfortunately.
So does anybody out there know whether the superstition was current in England, Scotland, Ireland, and not just Wales? And where might I find some useful thoughts on the origin of the idea? I have to say, I was so spooked by my grandmother, all those years ago, that I have never brought hawthorn blossom into the house and what is more, I passed on the superstition to my facebook queen of a daughter!
By the way, back in the 1950s when I was attending Tring CofE Primary School, I remember practicing maypole dancing for weeks before hand then setting up a maypole in the playground and dancing around it to produce intricate patterns with our ribbons.