The May Bank Holiday and its Significance

Natalie FineganAbout Dublin & Ireland, Blog, College News, Culture, Exploring Dublin, Exploring Ireland, The Irish And...

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As the May bank holiday approaches we thought it would be interesting to learn about May Day and its background!

In Ireland, May Day is celebrated on the Monday closest to May 1st. This is a very important day in Irish society as it is a bank holiday every year, which means a day off for most people!

What is the significance of May Day?

In Celtic tradition May Day marks the beginning of the spring festival, celebrating growth and fertility. In Irish/Gaeilge, May Day is referred to as Lá Bealtaine – pronounced “law byaltina”. May Day holds huge importance in Celtic tradition.There are many customs associated with the spring festival. One custom is the lighting of bonfires the night before May Day. This is to ensure prosperity, growth and healthy livestock for the coming months. The spring festival bonfire is often accompanied by market stalls, food vendors and traditional Irish music.

Similarly, in France there is a tradition whereby people visit friends and bringing the lily of the valley flower. The flower is a token which is given in order to bring good luck and prosperity to the recipient. Most countries celebrate the spring festival in order to encourage growth, luck, happiness and health.

May Day is also International Workers’ or Labour Day. Groups come together to rally for changes in pay and workplace relations, represent minorities, and promote equality in the workplace.

What to do on bank holidays as an Alpha student:

This year, May Day takes place on May the 6th and this is a bank holiday in Ireland. If you attend/are attending Alpha College of English you will have a day off on Monday the 6th. At Alpha, we provide an excursion with one of our guides instead of having classes on bank holidays. Students have the opportunity to explore Ireland, its history and culture. Excursions also allow students to bond with classmates and practise their English in a social setting.This Monday students will be going to the Hill of Tara and Trim Castle for their excursion. These are historical sites which are surrounded by beautiful scenery and are very authentically Irish! Fore more information on Alpha’s activities and trips, please see our blog post In Dublin’s Fair City and Beyond

Check our Instagram stories to see the places our students venture to on their excursions!