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What is May Day and how do we celebrate it?

What is May Day and how do we celebrate it?
What is May Day and how do we celebrate it?
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption For many, May Day is a chance to celebrate the coming warmth and light

Morris men, 'Obby 'Osses and Jack-in-the-Green have been out in force for May Day.

A celebration marking the first day of summer, the day's traditions are rooted in pagan festivals. What is celebrated today is believed to be a consolidation of three earlier festivals: Beltane fires - to celebrate the return of summer and fertility of the land; Walpurgisnacht - the eve of the Christian feast day of Saint Walpurga; and Floralia, which was held in ancient Rome in honour of the goddess Flora.

People across the UK been celebrating May Day in unique ways.

Image caption People gathered above the Cerne Abbas giant, Dorset, at sunrise this morning to watch the Wessex Morris Men welcome the May Day sunrise. The dance has been taking place annually for the past 40 years. The Morris man gathered above the 180ft (54m) chalk figure at 05:00 BST and started dancing about 10 minutes before sunrise, continuing until after the sun climbed over the surrounding hills
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption People gathered on Glastonbury Tor, Somerset, to watch the sun rise and celebrate Beltane. Druids and pagans celebrate Beltane as the beginning of summer and the chance to celebrate the coming of the season of warmth and light
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Magdalen College Choir sang the Hymnus Eucharisticus from the top of the Great Tower, Magdalen College at Oxford University, as the sun rose. The 500-year-old May Day tradition is sung to welcome the warmer months and to bless the city of Oxford
Image caption Morris Dancers performed all across Oxford. This group was under the Hertford Bridge, also known as the Bridge of Sighs.
Image caption The 'Obby 'Oss festival in Padstow, Cornwall, sees the town decorated with flowers, flags, greenery, and a maypole. Two groups of dancers make their way through the town, one of each team dressed in a stylized recreation of a horse - or 'oss. Led by "teasers", the osses are paraded through the town accompanied by dancers, drums and accordions. During the various dances young women may be "dragged" under the cloak of the oss as a portrayal of a fertility rite. It was once said that women caught beneath the veil would be pregnant within the year
Image copyright Sky girl
Image caption Our Weather Watcher, sky girl, was up early to watch the Leicester Morris Men at the Old John Tower in Bradgate Park, Leicestershire

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