Welcome to this month’s newsletter. I will first discuss a couple of annual events celebrated in May, talk about the importance of skin protection and then highlight a few day and nights out I’ll be enjoying.
We have already appreciated our first of two Bank Holidays this month which took place on May 1st also known as May Day – but what is the story behind the May Day festival?
May Day has its roots in the Pagan festival of Beltane, which marked the beginning of summer, and when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were performed in order to protect the cattle and crops, and to encourage growth. The May Day tradition of dancing around a Maypole – which should traditionally be made from Birch wood – also has Pagan roots, specifically Germanic.
There are also Roman connections – 27 April was the festival of Flora, the goddess of flowers. Youths would welcome the new season with a day of dancing and dedication to Flora. As Europe started to become Christianised, May Day celebrations were banned due to their Pagan roots. Instead, the Roman Catholic Church would celebrate the Virgin Mary on 1 May, with a “May crowning” of the Blessed Virgin.
The May Day Bank Holiday as we know it today was officially introduced by the Labour government in 1978. Although May Day is now considered to be a non-secular celebration, some of these old traditions have survived into the modern day – such as Maypole dancing and the crowning of a May queen. This year is a significant May Day Bank Holiday, as it heralds a period of change – banks will remain open for the day for the first time in over 150 years.
Another important celebration for me is my name day! In the Czech Republic, each day of the year except national holidays corresponds to a personal name. People celebrate their name day (“svátek” or more formally “jmeniny”) on the date corresponding to their own given name. Find yours out if it exists here: http://www.myczechrepublic.com/czech_culture/czech_name_days/
In the past, parents were not allowed to choose just any name for a child. This has changed, although it is still common to choose the name from the name day “calendar” and any highly unusual name has to be approved by a special office. The original list was the Roman Catholic calendar of saints, but many changes were made to reflect the present-day usage of names.
The name day is commonly of less importance than birthdays to Czech people and is celebrated just in some families. However the name day celebration can be held together with friends or co-workers of the same name and this way it can grow in size and “importance”. Unfortunately the proportion of the population that celebrates name days is falling; though still the name day is still a good reason for a party and for giving a present to somebody one loves. My own name day is on May 17th, I cannot wait to celebrate that Friday night.
As the days grow longer and sun shines brighter in the sky the month of May brings skin cancer into focus. It’s time to increase public understanding of the disease, including its prevalence, approaches to screening and prevention, treatment options, and resources that offer updated skin cancer information throughout the year.
It is estimated there are well over 1 million unreported cases of cancers annually in the USA alone. Staying informed with the latest news on prevention are important steps in reducing your risk of developing skin cancer. And, should a diagnosis occur, access to current, in-depth treatment information can help you find the best care. Here are my top ten tips to help avoid it:
- Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
- Do not burn.
- Avoid tanning and never use UV tanning beds.
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Apply 2 tablespoons of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Keep new-born babies out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
- See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
- For more information, visit this website: http://www.skincancer.org
Finally I would like to cover a few events I have or plan on attending this month. Firstly, the Electric Run is the world’s brightest 5km run! I immersed myself in light and sound in an electric wonderland at Wembley Park. People were able to run / dance / walk their way through some amazing course lands before finishing at the epic finish line celebration with Kiss FM DJs live on stage. I had a fantastic time! Find out more about it here: http://electricrun.co.uk/london/
Following this on the 9th/10th of May is The London Pet Show.
It is packed full with hundreds of different animals, amazing animal action displays and fun and informative talks and demonstrations. It’s the perfect opportunity for animal lovers of all ages to meet and learn about different types of animals as well as discover the latest goodies and gadgets to buy. If you would like to you can buy tickets and read more information here: http://www.londonpetshow.co.uk/
Last but by no means least; Museums at Night will explode into life from Wednesday 13 – Saturday 16 May during which time you will be about to explore museums at night. It is an opportunity for the cultural and heritage sector to come together around a single, simple campaign that is attractive to venues, audiences and the media alike. We all know British culture is rich and diverse. But how exciting to experience this in a new way – at night-time, when lights go down and our imaginations are in charge! Museums at Night weekend is a fantastic opportunity for museums and galleries to get together to put on events that allow us to celebrate our heritage in new and exciting ways – perhaps discovering a cultural gem on our doorstep that we didn’t even know existed. Find out about specific events and more here: http://museumsatnight.org.uk/
Thank you for reading this month’s newsletter – remember stay safe in the sun and perhaps I’ll bump into you at one of the fantastic events I’ve highlighted this month.