The first of May, the time of love – as one of the Czech most famous poets said in his poem. I believe that almost every Czech is able to recite at least a couple of verses from it. We all learnt the words at school and I dare to say they became our national poem of spring and love. Two things so closely connected.
In the Czech Republic, May 1st is a celebration of love. It has been a Czech tradition for centuries. There is a widely spread custom of kissing your loved one under a blooming tree. Legend says that a girl who is not kissed would wither and die in twelve months.
Thankfully we have a beautiful apple tree in our garden, which just about started to blossom. And a few bluebells underneath.
Late evening, on the first of May –
The twilit May—the time of love.
Meltingly called the turtle-dove,
Where rich and sweet pinewoods lay.
Whispered of love the mosses frail,
The flowering tree as sweetly lied,
The rose’s fragrant sigh replied
To love-songs of the nightingale.
In shadowy woods the burnished lake
Darkly complained a secret pain,
By circling shores embraced again;
And heaven’s clear sun leaned down to take
A road astray in azure deeps,
Like burning tears the lover weeps.
Karel Hynek Mácha