May

A lovely girl who married January, an old Lombard baron, sixty years of age. She had a liaison with a young squire named Damyan, and was detected by January; but she persuaded the old fool that his eyes were to blame and that he was labouring under a great mistake, the effect of senseless jealousy. January believed her words, and “who is glad but he?” for what is better than “a fruitful wife, and a confiding spouse?”

(Chaucer: The Marchaundes Tale. Pope: January and May,)

May

(the month) is not derived from Maia, the mother of Mercury, as the word existed long before either Mercury or Maia had been introduced. It is the Latin Maius- i.e. Magius, from the root mag, same as the Sanscrit mah, to grow; and means the growing or shooting month.

May unlucky for weddings.
This is a Roman superstition. Ovid says, “The common people profess it is unlucky to marry in the month of May.” In this month were held the festivals of Bona Dea (the goddess of chastity), and the feasts of the dead called Lemuralia.

Nec viduæ tædis eadem, nec virginis apta
Tempora; quæ nupsit, non diuturna fuit;
Hæc quoque de causa, si te proverbia tangunt,
Mente malum Maio nubere vulgus ait.

Ovid: Fasti, v. 496, etc.

Here we go gathering nuts of May.
(See Nuts Of May.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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