Why May is Considered a Bad Luck Month?

Why May is Considered a Bad Luck Month?, InfoMistico.com

Discover the intriguing world of May’s superstitions and traditions. This month is steeped in cultural beliefs that span from unfortunate weddings to the mystical rites of Beltane. Unpack the layers of history and folklore that designate May as a period of caution and learn how these age-old traditions continue to influence modern practices.

Beliefs and Superstitions Associated with May

May, the fifth month of the year, is frequently perceived as a time of bad luck, especially when it comes to starting significant new ventures like getting married, moving house, or launching a business. This superstition is rooted in various cultural aspects and traditions that have endured over the centuries.

Historically, May has been a crucial month for farmers, marking an optimal period for planting and other essential agricultural tasks. The need to focus on these farming activities gave rise to the belief that May was not the right month to kick off other major projects.

In popular culture, an old adage reinforces this notion: “Marry in May and you’ll rue the day”, illustrating the widespread belief that weddings in this month are doomed to failure. This idea extends to other areas, including moving and starting new businesses, which are also considered unlucky during May.

Additionally, there is a superstition about births in May, where it is believed that both children and cats born in this month will face health issues or bad luck. In certain rural areas, it persists that cats born during this period should not be raised, assuming they will bring bad luck and become “dirty cats.”

Beltane: A Celtic Connection to Death

May 1st celebrates Beltane, a festival deeply rooted in Celtic traditions. This day was sacred and dedicated to Bile, the Celtic god of death, marking a time when the supernatural became especially palpable. Charles Squire, in his book Celtic Myth and Legend, Poetry and Romance, mentions that any unusual event on this day was considered an omen.

During Beltane, it was believed that the spirits of the dead mingled with the living, creating an atmosphere charged with both danger and celebration. This month was associated with deaths and tragedies, including unfortunate events in mythology and history, such as the abduction of Guinevere and deadly conflicts among nobles.

The Beltane Fire Dance

Despite its association with death, Beltane was a time for renewal and rebirth. Celebrations included the Fire Dance, a ritual in which participants jumped over flames to purify themselves and ward off bad luck. Interestingly, although these rituals were intended to repel adversity, couples still viewed getting married in May as a harbinger of misfortune.

The superstition about cats born in May also resonated with Beltane, reflecting both reverence and fear towards these animals, considered sacred but potentially ominous if born in this problematic month.

Although May carries a heavy cloak of superstitions, it is also a period of rejuvenation and hope, marked by the awakening of the earth with the arrival of spring. Druids celebrated this rebirth, yet the magical and superstitious legacy of the month remains dominant, especially during events like Walpurgis Night.

Walpurgis Night: Witches and Superstitions

Traditionally, the eve of May, known as Walpurgis Night, is shrouded in myths of witches soaring through the skies on brooms, accompanied by their cats. This night, which welcomes the rising May sun, has traditionally instilled fear and been linked to dark rituals. Regrettably, in some places, cats were sacrificed by being burned alive in bonfires to honor the sun. Louis XIV outlawed this cruel act in France, which was also practiced during the summer solstice due to its barbarity.

May is not only a month of ancient pagan beliefs but also of deep Marian devotions. This Christian tradition dates back to the 13th century with the Feast of the Coronation of the Virgin on May 31st, solidifying May as a month dedicated to the Virgin Mary. During this month, it is common to participate in processions and rosaries, reflecting the blend of beliefs over time.

In Spain, Portugal and parts of Latin America, the festivities of the May Cross include decorating crosses with flowers and conducting processions and dances. Parallelly, the “May tree” tradition is celebrated, where a tree adorned with ribbons and flowers is erected to honor spring and natural rebirth.

On April 30th, the eve of May 1st, another important celebration takes place: Walpurgis Night or “Witch’s Night.” This Germanic-origin festival, now popular in Germany, Sweden and Finland, features bonfires and the wearing of witch masks and costumes. These rituals aim to ward off evil spirits and are a vibrant way to celebrate the arrival of spring and bid farewell to the remnants of winter.

Tragic and Curious Events of May

May, besides being laden with superstitions and traditions, has witnessed several tragic and curious events throughout history. Here are ten notable events that occurred during this month:

  1. Mount Pelée Eruption (1902): This volcanic eruption on the island of Martinique completely destroyed the city of Saint-Pierre, killing over 30,000 people and standing as one of the deadliest volcanic eruptions in history.
  2. Sinking of the Lusitania (1915): On May 7, the British ocean liner RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German submarine during World War I, resulting in the death of 1,198 passengers and crew. This event significantly impacted public opinion and contributed to the United States’ entry into the war.
  3. Halifax Explosion (1917): Although it occurred in December, it’s worth noting that in May 1917, Halifax began rebuilding after the explosion of a munitions-laden ship that devastated the city the previous December, in one of the largest non-nuclear disasters in terms of explosives.
  4. Tri-State Tornado (1925): This tornado, one of the deadliest in U.S. history, struck in May and devastated areas in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, causing 695 deaths and leaving thousands homeless.
  5. Tiananmen Square Protest Movement (1989): In May 1989, protests began in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, with students demanding political reforms. The protests ended tragically on June 4 when the Chinese government violently intervened.
  6. Manchester Bombing (2017): On May 22, 2017, a suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena killed 22 and injured hundreds, shocking the entire world.
  7. Valdivia Earthquake (1960): On May 22, 1960, Chile experienced the strongest earthquake ever recorded, reaching 9.5 on the Richter scale. A subsequent tsunami affected various Pacific areas.
  8. Opening of the Paris Universal Exposition (1855): Although not tragic, this historically significant event began in May, showcasing technological and cultural advances, including works like Paul Delaroche’s “Christ of Olympus.”
  9. Three Mile Island Reactor Overheating (1979): The incident began in March, but it was in May that the situation at Three Mile Island nuclear plant was stabilized, following the worst nuclear accident in U.S. history.
  10. Greek Financial Crisis (2010): In May 2010, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund agreed on a bailout package for Greece amid a deep financial crisis, marking a critical point in the eurozone debt crisis.

These events reflect a range of natural disasters, political crises and significant cultural moments that have occurred in May over the years.

Thus, May remains a month wrapped in mystery and tradition. From ancient beliefs to contemporary events, May’s superstitions offer a fascinating glimpse into the collective cultural psyche.