What does May Mean?
May Birthstone, Zodiac Sign, Flower, Number & More!
May is the 5th month in the modern calendar. Its name derives from the Latin term Maia who was the Goddess of Spring in Italy, and later married Vulcan. Her Roman counterpart was Bon Dea, associated with fertility. Her festival was held annually in May. Her name means “Good Goddess”.
The Russians had a nifty tradition in May. Typically in the first few days they would celebrate Mayovaka. This was a country picnic. While it later became associated with revolutionary activities, the thought of a lovely jaunt with food sounds like a wonderful way to open the month.
One spectacular event in May is the Eta Aquariids meteor shower. It begins late April and continues until the third week of May. The best viewing time is around May 6. The Arietids shower starting May 22 follows this nearly immediately.
One of the most provocative Pagan and Wiccan holidays, Beltane, sums up the symbolism and meaning of May properly. This is a celebration of life and fertility. It honors all potentials and the energy of creation itself.
It is said at this time of year the Maiden Goddess reaches maturity. She is the May Queen or Bride with whom the Oak King falls head-over-heels in love. He wins her hand with charm and the beauty of nature, and the two bear a child. This myth reflects the Sacred Marriage where Heaven and Earth unite, bringing joy and manifesting dreams.
During May all manner of fire festivals dot the land. They symbolically continue to support the Sun’s dominance in the sky. This light nurtures the land and the human spirit. It is one of the most popular times of the year to get engaged. Later a handfasting occurs in magical circles with the exchange of vows, rinds and the tying of their hands (thus the phrase “tie the knot”). A Handfasting binds the couple for a year and a day during which time they can sort out their feelings and level of commitment. After that they can continue together (perhaps toward legal marriage) or leave in peace.
One of our personally favorite traditions in May is going “a-Maying”. Even up till
the 1970s children would bring wild flowers to various homes and leave them anonymously as if some Fairy came to visit. This custom dates back to early May Day traditions where couples would go to the fields to make love, then bring back a bounty of Hawthorn blossoms, using them to decorate both their hearth and barns. It is no great surprise that many babies arrived in February as a result.
Another activity you may have seen is that of dancing the Maypole. People place this long Birch pole securely in the earth. The Maypole has flowers on the top and ribbons all around. Men and women weave the ribbons together clockwise in playful merriment. The meaning here is clear: God and Goddess united with humankind in the spiral of life’s journey.
May Birth Stone: Emerald & Agate
Emerald is the traditional birthstone for May and it is sacred to Venus, the Goddess of love, fertility and success. Wearing Emerald inspires hope in the weary heart and acts like a mental tonic. May is the best month for using Emerald in magic for things like wisdom, luck, devotion and easing angst. Add that to the power of the full Moon this month and watch the sacred energies unfold. Emerald builds bridges between people, which may be why it is often a gift between lovers.
Agate is one of the earliest stones used as a talisman or amulet. It protects the bearer and gives them strength. If you have night terrors, place an Agate under your pillow. Babylonians used Agate to stave off storms. Light Workers tell us that Agate helps us process our feelings more effectively. This makes it an excellent choice for decision-making efforts.
May Zodiac Signs: Taurus & Gemini
May begins the month in the Sign of Taurus where it remains until May 20th. Those born under the sign of the Bull convey the characteristics of being incredibly practical, trustworthy and outgoing, common attributes to Earth signs. They have a strong sensual side that adores beauty wherever it appears. The Bull manages their finances carefully while still remaining generous. As you might suspect, Taurus can also be rather “bull headed” and awkward “the bull in a china shop”. With these energies in mind, the part of May governed by Taurus might be a good time for working financial management spells and rituals, and make them lovely!
On May 21 we move into an Air sign Gemini the twins. Gemini are very social and smart. They horde information until there is an opportunity to share it, which makes for great fun. Companions find the Twins amusing, adaptable and NEVER boring. Gemini avoids repetitive jobs, and require challenging jobs with every-changing demands (such as technology). They make great teachers, writers, actors and salespeople. Nonetheless, Gemini has a brief attention span (“look, Squirrel”) and sometimes procrastinate on tasks when they become tiresome. In terms of magical energy during this period, consider focusing on ways of improving communication, humor and your overall group interactions
May has several month-long holidays that add to its symbolic value. It is National Mobility Awareness Month, National Electrical Safety Month, National Pet Month in the UK, World Trade Month and National Innovators Month. Additionally you can consider National Burger Month (yum!), Jewish American Heritage Month and National Moving Month just to name a few.
In terms of holidays whose date changes slightly from year to year beginning the last Friday in April Canadians celebrate National Arbor Week. The first Thursday in May is National Prayer day, the first Friday after the Second Sunday in May is National Public Gardens Day. The First Saturday of May is Free Comic Book Day, Tuesday of the first full week is National Teacher Appreciation Day, the second Sunday in May is Children’s Day (Spain), the third Friday – National Pizza Party Day and the last Monday of the month World Multiple Sclerosis Day.
As for fixed celebrations we start off the month on May 1 with both Beltane and Lei Day in Hawaii. World Press Freedom Day is May 3, Star Wars Day – May 4, International No Diet Day – May 6, International Nurses Day – May 12 and International Day of Families – May 15. Moving to the 2nd half of May there’s National Day Against Homophobia (Canada) – May 17, International Museum Day – May 18, National Maritime Day – May 22, World Turtle Day – May 23, Geek Pride Day – May 25 and World MS Day – May 27th. Closing the month we have the wonderfully-intentioned International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers – May 29.
May Flowers: Lily of the Valley & Hawthorn
The birth flower for May is Lily of the Valley also known as the Mayflower. In the Language of Flowers it represents the return to happiness. It also denotes purity, joy, good fortune and modesty. Because of these associations, Lily of the Valley is a favorite addition to marriages and other important celebrations worldwide.
Plant Lily of the Valley in your garden to safeguard it and your home from evil spirits. A happy side effect is that these flowers attract fairies. When harvested and placed in the home, Lily of the Valley brings luck (Germany).
Legends in the Middle Ages claim that Lily of the Valley’s fragrance brings the Nightingale to their mates. Upon marriage in Holland couples are gifted with a Lily of the Valley plant for their garden for enduring love.
Hawthorn has strong associations with the Beltane festival. In Celtic tradition it represents safety, balance and love. Fairies live beneath Hawthorn, whose spirit guards them dutifully. So, any time someone wanted Hawthorn for a bouquet it was a matter embarked on respectfully.
Hawthorn symbolizes longevity being that some trees live over 400 years. It was part of the ancient healer’s kit and tied to the Sacred Masculine.
May Month Number: 5
In Numerology the sacred number Five is restless. This energetic figure is in perpetual motion, mixing up change. Working with Five vibrations means releasing constraints on your mind and spirit. If you have trouble taking risks, May is the month for that unusual leap of faith.
This is not the best month for job-hunting as 5 doesn’t like settling down. If you are searching watch for more adventurous opportunities that don’t involve daily, rote tasks. If that door opens grab on to it and be ready for a wild ride.
Five is flexible, charming, forward thinking and very resourceful. When you are stuck in a rut, Five’s energy can dig you out. Use May as a time to get off the sidelines of life. Find out about all the resources at your disposal. Don’t be afraid to speak your truth. Laugh a lot.
May Colors: Yellow & Green
Yellow is a very happy, warm color. It’s welcoming and cheerful. There is nothing shy about Yellow – it likes to be in the forefront. Add Yellow to your environment to improve your overall mood. Yellow toys are good for children, who are naturally spontaneous to begin with. When spaces feel dank and dreary – bring in Yellow flowers.
Green represents growth, newness and productivity. is also associated with money and getting the “go ahead” (as in a green light). Green is soothing to the human soul and offers a sense of stability. You can work on Green Living with this color, or energies for prosperity and even-keeled ambition.
May Symbol: Nightengale
One of the symbols for May is the Nightingale. Legend tells us that a Lily of the Valley loved a Nightingale. Night after night she listed to his song. Finally when the Nightingale became lonely and wearied of his singing alone, he asked the Lily of the Valley to raise her melodious voice every May so he could happily sing once more. Spiritually speaking, Nightingale speaks of liberation and immortality.
When Nightingale comes to a person as a Spirit Animal, Totem or guide, they bring a song or poem. Finding that song is part of your challenge – the music and words must have deep abiding meaning.
Nightingale is a bird of the shadows. Here they travel fearlessly while reciting their heart-felt cry. Like him, when you are afraid – sing of courage. When you are hurt sing of healing. When hate shadows your heart – sing of love. And when you are sick in body, mind and soul – sing of wellness.
May Full Moon
A common designation for the Full Moon in May is the Full Flower Moon. Other names include Corn Planting Moon, Strawberry Moon and Milk Moon. There is no question that Native Americans used these types of names as a way of following the seasons as well as acting as a guideline for planting various crops. Overall the Full Moon of May is a perfect time to celebrate and honor nature (meditate with a flower spirit!).
- In Japan students and employees both suffer from May Sickness, personified by weariness.
- Cornish tradition tells us to never buy a broom in May, nor wash a blanket.
- Folklore tells us that cats born in May catch snakes instead of mice.
- Washing your face with May Day dew eliminates blemishes.
- May begins and ends on the same day of the week. This is unique to this month.
- It is the only month in which a US President has not died. Meanwhile in the UK, prime ministers tend to be born in May.
- The Weather Channel began broadcasts in 1982.
- Norman Mailer published his first novel. (1948).
- The Hindenburg exploded, killing 36 people (1937).
- Betty White appeared as the host of Saturday Night Live (2010).
- The FDA approves birth control pills. (1960).
- Lewis and Clark embarked on their exploration (1804).
- The United States space station launched (1973).
- The Supreme Court ruled segregation in public schools unconstitutional (1954).
- Officiates in the State of Massachusetts performed the first same-sex marriages legally (2004).
- Johnny Carson retired from the Tonight Show (1992).
- Star Wars premiered (1977).
- Big Ben began to Chime at St. Stephen’s Tower (1859).
“May is here! The air is fresh and sunny; and the miser-bees are busy hoarding golden honey.” ~Thomas B. Aldrich
“Among the changing months, May stands confest; the sweetest and fairest colors dressed.” ~ James Thomson
“Another May new buds and flowers shall bring: AH! Why has happiness no second spring?” ~ Charlotte Smith
“The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.” ~ Edwin Way Teale
“What potent blood hath modest May.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“You are as welcome as the flowers in May.” ~ Charles Macklin
“My heart is weary, waiting, Waiting for the month of May.” ~ Dennis Florence McCarthy
- Benjamin Spock (May 2)
- Sugar Ray Robinson (May 3)
- Sigmund Freud and Orson Welles (May 6)
- Billy Joel (May 9)
- Katharine Hepburn and George Carlin (May 12)
- George Lucas (May 14)
- Olga Korbut (May 16)
- Pope John Paul II (May 18)
- Cher (May 20)
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (May 22)
- Bill “Bojangles” Robinson (May 25)
- Sally Ride (May 26)
- Gladys Knight (May 28)
- John F. Kennedy (May 29)
- Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale (May 31)