The May Queen

Lady Godiva fits comfortably into the folk traditions of old England, which persist today as local communities revive them. Dating back to Celtic and pre-Christian times, May Day was associated with the end of the winter, the coming of the sun and springtime sexual urges. Some would say the Maypole is a phallic symbol, although that's a stretch. At any rate, the photo below of a young May Queen from Llandudno, Wales in 1910 captures some of the magic.


By 1910, of course, the naughty elements largely had been stripped out. The bawdy Lord and Lady of the May had been replaced by a pretty May Queen like the one above.

If Lady Godiva survived and Peeping Tom was banished, so too the Green Man or Jack in the Green were banished along with him. The Green Man is one of the most interesting figures in European folklore. Really a symbol of fertility and rebirth, he is associated with spring and he reminds us of our bond with nature. Nowadays he makes an amazing gargoyle or fountain or door knob. Below are striking examples from France and Germany:

Photo: Simon Garbutt
Photo: Andreas Praefck