Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/202

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The day was ushered in by going a-maying, a custom that is thus described in Stow's Survey of London: "In the month of May, namely, on May-day in the morning, every man, except impediment, would walk into the sweete meaddowes and green woods, there to rejoice their spirits, with the beauty and savour of sweet flowers, praysing God in their kind."

This sedate and simple enjoyment, however, was not sufficient for most people. Stubbes, in The Anatomy of Abuses, thus describes the more usual form of maying:

"Against May-day every parish, town, or village assemble themselves, both men, women, and children; and either all together, or dividing themselves into companies, they goe, some to the woods and groves, some to the hills and mountains, some to one place, some to another, where they spend all the night in pleasant pastimes, and in the morning they return bringing with them birche boughs and branches of trees to deck their assemblies withal. But their chiefest jewel they bring from thence is the maie-poale, which they bring home with great veneration, as thus—they have twentie or fortie yoake of oxen, every oxe having a sweete nosegaie of flowers tied to the tip of his horns, and these oxen draw home the maie-poale, stinking idol rather, which they covered