Archangel Michail:

str. 217:

Only in passing can I mention here that this "type" of May chant can be traced with almost identical formulas not only in almost all the documented Molise towns, but also well beyond the borders of Molise; and that it is therefore not exclusively linked to the specific custom of the "pagliara". And here I must confine myself to observing again how in the text of Acquaviva you miss every formula of more or less joking threat to those who do not offer gifts; and also missing any reference to the dance movements that the majo performed: both elements are traced back instead to the song of San Felice. Only in Acquaviva do the lines of greeting to the Virgin and Saint Michael meet: [23] there is no trace of it in the texts collected in San Felice, Lucito, Fossalto, Bagnoli, Agnone; and there is no trace of it even in those in the Slavic-Molise dialect collected at Acquaviva by the oldest observers. [24]

23 . The feast of San Michele in Acquaviva is celebrated with particular solemnity on September 29th; cfr. also Rešetar , op. cit., p. 125 and photos on pp. 129-130.

24 . See them in M. Rešetar , op. cit., 284—286 and 521—322. In only one of these is a trace of a religious nature, where it is said: "Bog čuva naše grade i naše stine". As for the relationships between the Italian text, collected by me and published above, and the Slavic-Molise texts in question, the substantial similarities of content appear evident. In some cases it is even a translation of the Italian text into Slavic-Molise; this procedure has already been highlighted by Rešetar, and of which I was able to gain direct experience precisely in Acquaviva where a young peasant woman sang me a narrative song very widespread in Italy, first in the Slavic version she said she had made herself ( Angiulina lipa ) and then in the original Italian one. However, to return to the May song, we should not overlook certain images that are encountered in the Slavic-Molise lessons, and are not found in the Italian dialect:

Lipe gospodine naše,
hitite nami štogodi:
mi jesmo čeljade vaše!

[ Our beautiful Lord,
throw us something:
we are your children! ]


Lipa moja lozica,
ka budeš čudo roditi,
izvan put ti 'š ma voditi.

[ My beautiful vine
which in abundance you will produce,
off you will guide me. ]

It should also be noted that in the text provided by De Rubertis, a metric difference between the verses sung by the choir and those sung by the first four singers is evident; there is no trace of this distinction in the text I collected, nor is there any sign of any alternation of singing between the various components of the cortege. However it is very probable that the song was alternate also in recent times, as it happened at the time of G. De Rubertis and as it still happens today in Fossalto where the stanzas (metrically equal) are repeated alternately by the two companions of the « pagliara ».


str. 221:

37 A woman is instead at the center of the festival of Montelongo: but here it is a symbolization different from the « pagliara », that is the well-known « reginetta » of May (reginetta di maggio).


On May Day, Bulgarians celebrate Irminden (or Yeremiya, Eremiya, Irima, Zamski den). The holiday is associated with snakes and lizards and rituals are made in order to protect people from them. The name of the holiday comes from the prophet Jeremiah, but its origins are most probably pagan.

It is said that on the days of the Holy Forty or Annunciation snakes come out of their burrows, and on Irminden their king comes out. Old people believe that those working in the fields on this day will be bitten by a snake in summer.

In western Bulgaria people light fires, jump over them and make noises to scare snakes. Another custom is to prepare "podnici" (special clay pots made for baking bread).

This day is especially observed by pregnant women so that their offspring do not catch "yeremiya" — an illness due to evil powers.


"Prvomajski uranak" (Reveille on May 1st) is a folk tradition and feast that consists of the fact that on May 1, people go in the nature or even leave the day before and spend the night with a camp fire. Most of the time, a dish is cooked in a kettle or in a barbecue. Among Serbs this holiday is widespread. Almost every town in Serbia has its own traditional first-of-may excursion sites, and most often these are green areas outside the city.[22]



In Italy it is called Calendimaggio or cantar maggio a seasonal feast held to celebrate the arrival of spring. The event takes its name from the period in which it takes place, that is, the beginning of May, from the Latin calenda maia. The Calendimaggio is a tradition still alive today in many regions of Italy as an allegory of the return to life and rebirth: among these Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna (for example, is celebrated in the area of the Quattro Province or Piacenza, Pavia, Alessandria and Genoa), Tuscany and Umbria. This magical-propitiatory ritual is often performed during an almsgiving in which, in exchange for gifts (traditionally eggs, wine, food or sweets), the Maggi (or maggerini) sing auspicious verses to the inhabitants of the houses they visit. Throughout the Italian peninsula these Il Maggio couplets are very diverse—most are love songs with a strong romantic theme, that young people sang to celebrate the arrival of spring. Symbols of spring revival are the trees (alder, golden rain) and flowers (violets, roses), mentioned in the verses of the songs, and with which the maggerini adorn themselves. In particular the plant alder, which grows along the rivers, is considered the symbol of life and that's why it is often present in the ritual.

Calendimaggio can be historically noted in Tuscany as a mythical character who had a predominant role and met many of the attributes of the god Belenus. In Lucania, the Maggi have a clear auspicious character of pagan origin. In Syracuse, Sicily, the Albero della Cuccagna (cf. "Greasy pole") is held during the month of May, a feast celebrated to commemorate the victory over the Athenians led by Nicias. However, Angelo de Gubernatis, in his work Mythology of Plants, believes that without doubt the festival was previous to that of said victory.

It is a celebration that dates back to ancient peoples, and is very integrated with the rhythms of nature, such as the Celts (celebrating Beltane), Etruscans and Ligures, in which the arrival of summer was of great importance.




On May Day, the Romanians celebrate the arminden (or armindeni), the beginning of summer, symbolically tied with the protection of crops and farm animals. The name comes from Slavonic Jeremiinŭ dĭnĭ, meaning prophet Jeremiah's day, but the celebration rites and habits of this day are apotropaic and pagan (possibly originating in the cult of the god Pan).

The day is also called ziua pelinului ("mugwort day") or ziua bețivilor ("drunkards' day") and it is celebrated to ensure good wine in autumn and, for people and farm animals alike, good health and protection from the elements of nature (storms, hail, illness, pests). People would have parties in natural surroundings, with lăutari (fiddlers) for those who could afford it. Then it is customary to roast and eat lamb, along with new mutton cheese, and to drink mugwort-flavoured wine, or just red wine, to refresh the blood and get protection from diseases. On the way back, the men wear lilac or mugwort flowers on their hats.

Other apotropaic rites include, in some areas of the country, people washing their faces with the morning dew (for good health) and adorning the gates for good luck and abundance with green branches or with birch saplings (for the houses with maiden girls). The entries to the animals' shelters are also adorned with green branches. All branches are left in place until the wheat harvest when they are used in the fire which will bake the first bread from the new wheat.

On May Day eve, country women do not work in the field as well as in the house to avoid devastating storms and hail coming down on the village.

Arminden is also ziua boilor (oxen day) and thus the animals are not to be used for work, or else they could die or their owners could get ill.

It is said that the weather is always good on May Day to allow people to celebrate.



Traditional English May Day rites and celebrations include crowning a May Queen and celebrations involving a maypole, around which dancers often circle with ribbons. Historically, Morris dancing has been linked to May Day celebrations.[27] The earliest records of maypole celebrations date to the 14th century, and by the 15th century the maypole tradition was well established in southern Britain.[12]