May, Maia, and the pig


Bartholomeus Spranger – Vulcan and Maia – ( 1575 /1580)


May 1st , also called May Day, or Labour Day, is a holiday, associated to the start of spring, and the celebration of the International Workers’ Day or Labour Day, which In Italy is called Festa dei Lavoratori and is a nationwide public holiday.
The earliest May Day celebrations appeared with the festivals in honour of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, and Maia, also called “Bona Dea”, the goddess of fertility and spring, who represented the forces of growth and the return of the warm rays of the sun.
Every May 1st , Vulcan offered her a pregnant sow as a sacrifice, so that the Earth could produce plentifully: the sow represented the fecundity of the earth and of the goddess Maia.
The month of May was named after Maia and even the Italian name “pig” derives from hers ( in Latin it is called “sus maialis” and in Italian “maiale” )

On their festival, the people of ancient Rome honoured Maia and Flora adorning their statues with garlands and carried them in a procession of singers and dancers to a sacred flowering tree, the forerunner of the modern Maypole.


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