• Calendar,  Medieval manuscripts

    May from the Da Costa Hours

    This Da Costa Hours May calendar page illuminated by Simon Bening of Ghent (1483/84–1561) is from the Da Costa hours in the Morgan Library (MS M.399, fol. 6v). It is very similar to the May calendar page that Simon Bening created for the British Library’s Golf Book. Just as in the Golf Book calendar page for May, Bening in the Da Costa Hours features a boat with greenery and musicians celebrating May 1 and the heart of Spring, an appropriate labor of May. As with all of the calendar pages in this book of hours, May from the Da Costa Hours features what the Morgan Library describes as “an illusionistic…

  • Calendar,  Medieval manuscripts

    Another May Day

    May day or the first of May is also known as Beltane, as I’ve noted before. I’ve written about both of my favorite May Books of Hours images from the Golf Book, and the Très Riche Heures, so here’s another lovely May image. Here’s an image from a Book of Hours illuminated by Jean Poyer; the Hours of Henry VIII/The Prayer Book of Ann de Bretagne, from the collections of The Morgan Library. This is the calendar page for May, otherwise known as f. 3. The image below is from the top part of the folio, above the calendar proper. Notice that it appears to be a courtship scene, entirely…

  • Calendar,  Medieval manuscripts

    The May Calendar Image from The Golf Book

    Before discussing the May from the Golf Book, I’m going to be lazy, and link to a post from two years ago about May day and May calendar images from books of hours. This calendar image from a book of hours is an image of a Maying boat expedition. This page showing May from the Golf book is an image from the British Library’s manuscript Additional 24098 folio 22v. This May calendar image is from a sixteenth century  book of hours from the Netherlands workshop of Simon Bening and better known as The Golf Book. The image shows a characteristic aristocratic Maying scene in its depiction of a spring landscape (Bening is known for his…

  • Calendar

    Calens Mai or May Day

    Long before May 1 became associated with workers, it was associated with the joys of spring and the restoration of fertility to the land. The Celtic festival of Beltaine (Modern English Beltane)  is the ancestor of the calens Mai, or May Day associated with May 1.  I suspect the Roman floralia may have contributed or shared an common IE ancestor. Beltaine is one of the four main Celtic seasonal festivals, and as a liminal time, between the death of winter and the birth of the warm half of the year, it is one of the occasions when the barriers between the mortal world and the otherworld are easily passed (Rees…