The birthstone of the month of April is the diamond, a girl’s best friend, they say, according to the song of the musical, Gentlemen Prefer Blonds. As we bid good-bye to the month of diamonds this weekend, we welcome emeralds, the birthstone for the month of May. Typically thought of as green, I discovered that emeralds come in yellow and blue, which of course I should have known from the chaos emeralds in Sonic the Hedgehog. Chaos emeralds transform thoughts into power by bending reality or creating a vision. Ah, the adventures we have to look forward to in the month of May!
In the UK, we begin May with a bank holiday weekend named very boringly and perhaps slightly Britishly, Early May Bank Holiday. This, to distinguish it from the Late May Bank Holiday, which should normally take place at the end of the month though this year it has been tacked on to the Queen’s 70th anniversary as monarch in early June. The Early May Bank Holiday ends on May Day on Monday May 2nd, and to commemorate this day, the English fell a tree and, attaching ribbons to the pole, dancers with flower crowns skip around the pole in a Maypole Dance. The Gaelic of Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man celebrate May Day as the Festival of Beltane by dancing around a bonfire. The Welsh mark May Day as Calan Mai or Calan Haf by sending the herds out to pasture, and regard the month of May as a midpoint between equinox and solstice. Sandwiched by the two bank holiday markers, May in the British Isles is a tweener.
In Japan, the beginning of May brackets the weeklong Golden Week beginning at the end of April. Marked by four separate holidays of Showa Day (29 April), Constitution Day (3 May), Greenery Day (4 May) and Children’s Day (5 May), many Japanese take time off work in this week, which is allegedly why the entertainment industry took it upon themselves to label this week, golden, mashing it together with Kintaro or Golden Boy, the legend behind Children’s Day. Kintaro was a boy so strong he allegedly defeated a carp monster to defend his village. Like salmon, carp are strong swimmers that swim upstream to spawn, which is why we see all those wind sock koinobori carp streamers all across Japan. The reality today is probably that koinobori carp streamers have much stiffer competition from other digital streaming platforms than they do from the river flow.
Forge on koi carp. Enjoy your May Days, Golden Weeks and Labor Days. Delight in the tweener month that transforms spring into summer, equinox into solstice, and diamonds into emeralds. If diamonds are forever so too is the time that turns the seasons.