May Day Traditions and the UK Crafter

Posted 27/04/2023 in Tips for Crafters

The traditional spring May Day festivities bring with them the chance for some great trading opportunities for anyone interested in crafts. After the long and relatively quiet winter period spring is one of the first chances that a UK craft producer can really start to get their work out into the marketplace and seen and sold. You should always make sure that you take the precaution of having adequate business craft insurance UK operators will require when looking to make a sale. The first of May, or May Day, is one of the oldest and most respected of traditional days, which this year has been given even more emphasis with the coronation of King Charles the third happening around the same time. The traditions of May Day go back a lot further than even our own royal family and many of the events that are celebrated on May Day have their origins in pagan roots. Our ancestors were very keen to acknowledge the return of the warm summer days and all of the opportunities it presented them.

These opportunities are exactly the same for crafters in the UK.  There is a real opportunity to tap into the heritage of the day and provide lots of different products and artistic crafts for purchase.  As we have mentioned before, this is when the craft market season really begins to come alive and it is quite easy to be able to fill in your weekends at most places throughout the spring and summer. May Day represents a real opportunity, but where does this seasonal day of recognition come from and what examples of its traditions are there?

Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth. Our ancestors were very keen to celebrate the coming of spring and summer and they would do this through many events, like Maypole dancing, for example. If you are going to exhibit your products at a craft fair or local fete you will no doubt come across the Maypole. This features young children weaving their way in between each other to slowly wrap the Maypole with coloured ribbons. This is a complicated process and you would think that the children involved would need some kind of special protection much as you would need to for your stall! It’s why the provision of what business craft insurance UK providers can give is a necessity.

There are many other traditions associated with this special day, and many of them feature  parades of some kind and displays of flowers and floral arrangements. There is one tradition that sees the villagers walk the local area beating the ground with spades and shovels in an attempt to wake the Earth from its winter slumbers. This is one of the oldest of May Day celebrations but we do know that the first May Day of its type was observed by the Romans.  They had a celebration called Floralia and this was the festival of Flora. Flora was one of the many gods and goddesses that the Romans worshipped. As you may well have been able to guess from the name, she was a goddess of flowers. Displays and arrangements of flowers were common during this period. There were also celebrations of the god Dionysus and the goddess Aphrodite. A Floralia was a constructed stage that was decorated with flowers and to  please the gods, plays about them were held here. There were also many examples of worship of Ceres the goddess of wheat and farming. If you have a craft that is centred around decoration with flowers or their arrangements then this might be an interesting selling point to tap into.

There is a real emphasis on light with May Day celebrations.  As this is in recognition of the lengthening of the days it is also not uncommon to find many bonfires and beacons are lit at this time. We do not suggest that you do this necessarily but if you do happen to light some early summer bonfires on your premises it would be good to make sure that you had some business craft insurance UK provision to cover for any eventuality!

When May Day takes on a life of its own!

The Scandinavian country of Finland takes May Day very seriously and given that a large proportion of the country is in the Arctic Circle, the coming of summer is a very important thing to celebrate. It’s one of the largest public holidays of the calendar year and it’s known as vappu (always lower case). Many people converge in the cities on the last day of April and the First of May to see this two-day spectacle. Finnish students party hard during vappu, especially the engineering students for some reason! Contrary to the normal calendar, their vappu is a two-week party and hence called wappu. So the student May Day celebrations start in the middle of April and culminate on May Day.

Finnish culinary vappu traditions and specialities abound, like the insanely delicious fresh vappu donuts and tippaleipä  which is a special funnel cake only eaten during May Day festivities. Many people make or buy Sima, a non-alcoholic sweet sparkling brew made of water, yeast, lemon, and raisins.

Even in warmer Mediterranean countries May Day is still celebrated.  In Greece, for example, there is a big festival centred around the victory of the goddess Maia, as spring shows that summertime has finally defeated winter.

Running through all of these events is that of flowers and floral displays.  This theme is surely something that can be explored by all crafters regardless of what they produce.  Flowers also offer a large inspirational palette for many creators.  It really doesn’t matter what line of craft you are in. Card makers can capitalise on the springtime with work based around the flowers of the period. Pottery and ceramic work can also feature flower designs. For those who specialise in needlework and knitting, clothing representative of spring flowers may also be of interest.

Whatever you decide to choose, having a solid spring and May Day theme to all of your work is a great choice around this time. Making your business as seasonally focused as possible can be a big crowd pleaser.