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Hebe’s here, May is here! The air is fresh and sunny; And the miser-bees are busy Hoarding golden honey!
–Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836–1907)
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While the Mother’s Day we celebrate is a fairly recent development, in 16th-century England a celebration called “Mothering Sunday” was inaugurated — a Sunday set aside for visiting your mother. The eldest son or daughter would bring a “mothering cake,” which would be shared by the entire family. Family reunions were the order of the day, with sons and daughters assuming all household duties and preparing a special dinner in honor of their mother.
Sincerely, The Old Farmer’s Almanac
P.S. Please visit our brand-new blogs about everything Almanac. Comment on random reflections, advice, and ideas from the editors of The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
VIEW MERCURY (May 6)
The best time to see Mercury is tonight, about 35 minutes after sunset, when the planet floats next to the crescent Moon in the western sky.
MOTHER’S DAY (May 11)
Our observance of Mother’s Day originated in 1907 with the efforts of a devoted daughter, Anna M. Jarvis of Philadelphia, who conceived the idea of an annual nationwide celebration. Send an E-card to your mother!
WHIT SUNDAY (May 11)
Whitsunday, or Pentecost, is the seventh Sunday after Easter. For Christians, this commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit in tongues of flame upon the apostles. Whit, a corruption of white, refers to the white baptismal garments worn on this day. It is also a time of spring festivals throughout Europe, with echoes of pagan spring rites such as Morris dancing and dressing a young boy in greenery (Jack-in-the-Green) and marching him through the village.
THREE CHILLY SAINTS (May 11–13)
These three days, named for three early Christian martyrs, are traditionally the last cold spell before planting season begins. In the middle of May comes the tail of winter.
ST. DUNSTAN (May 19)
According to legend, St. Dunstan made a pact with the devil to spare apple and pear blossoms from late frosts nine years out of ten. In the tenth year, there was a frost on this day.
VICTORIA DAY (May 19)
Victoria Day in Canada commemorates the May 24, 1819, birthday of Britain’s Queen Victoria. The British have always celebrated the birthday of the ruling monarch. After Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, the people of Canada continued to mark her birthday to show loyalty to the British Empire. This holiday is regarded as the beginning of the gardening season in many parts of Canada.
Soil Mix for Containers
1 part peat moss 1 part rich garden soil or potting soil 1 part sand
With a trowel, mix the ingredients in a bucket or wheelbarrow until well blended. Use for outdoor potted vegetables or flowers.
In selecting herbs for your home garden, it is crucial to recognize which ones are meant for culinary use. In many cases, the old favorites are still the best choices: sage (Salvia officinalis), dill (Anethum graveolens), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), chives (Allium schoenoprasum), and parsley (Petroselinum crispum), to name a few. See our Growing Herbs chart for helpful advice. If you don’t have a garden plot, try some of these fragrant herbs in a window box or container.