title="Baldons Parish Council in Oxfordshire">

From the Vicar May 2017

From Canon Sue Booys


I wonder what you love about the month of May – it’s a month full of ancient traditions especially around the beginning of the month. In pre- Christian times flowers, dancing and celebration were all important. So at this time of year we feel a real association with our Anglo Saxon ancestors as we celebrate the warming of the seasons and the richness promised in field and garden which we celebrate with flower shows and festivals, school and village fetes and plant shows – and of course, barbeques!


A May Day tradition that has gone out of fashion was to leave a May Basket – a secret gift of sweet things anonymously on someone’s doorstep. A kind of reversal of ‘trick or treat’, I suppose, but one that has gone out of fashion! In parts of the Church St. Mary the mother of Jesus is remembered on May Day – and more recently Joseph as well! Unless we have a later Easter two other important Christian festivals often fall in May Ascension Day and Pentecost or Whitsun!


Many of our local schools continue the tradition of May Dancing and still teach the skills of dancing around a Maypole and the steps required for English country dances (more often known today as ‘Barn’ dances and Ceilidhs). However the beginning of May is not all good news in places of education as it brings with it the season of examination as well as celebration – though there were not nearly so many of them exams have been held in May and June for centuries in our country (and elsewhere in western Europe) in order for them to be out of the way before Harvest when the young men who took them often needed to return home to help.


So many of the things we celebrate throughout the year are given us by the seasons and the traditions associated with them. Though I guess that our ancestors would not always recognise the things we do thinking that we are re-enacting the past!! That’s good!! Tradition is a living breathing thing that happens when people take the things they value and interpret them for their own time and in their own way. Sometimes that ogre ‘the Church’ is accused of ‘taking over’ ancient traditions and making them ‘religious’ when really they are ‘just’ ancient. Then, of course, there’s the question of Easter Eggs and bunnies and how that has grown out of the Christian teaching about Easter which, in turn, overlays earlier and more ancient origins.


Amongst any group of people there will be those who continually reinterpret the past – in order to value tradition and make it real in their own time and culture. This happens in families, in villages and local communities – as well as across the world. Perhaps it doesn’t matter “who started what?” or even “whose tradition is the most authentic” – more important I suspect is the fact that we value our past enough to want to make it part of our present. That we value one another enough to share what’s important to us and that we value what we believe enough to be confident about our own beliefs without feeling they have to be imposed – because sharing is enough. Maybe that tradition of secret generosity exemplified by the ‘May Basket’ could do with a revival!


The Revd Paul Cawthorne is Team vicar for The Baldons with Nuneham Courtenay, Berinsfield and Drayton St Leonard.

e-mail: bbdparishoffice@rocketmail.com      and tel: 01865 340460

A clergy person can always be reached in a pastoral emergency by ringing the Dorchester Team Office 01865 340007