May Day No. 2: The Legend of Maid Marian

01 May

In addition to its connection to Robin Hood, May Day has had a very long and very strong association with the Virgin Mary, most especially among Roman Catholics. The legend of Maid Marian may have arisen from that association, as did apparently Olivia’s costuming, as well as her physical appearance, in The Adventures of Robin Hood.

In the 1400s Catholics, as all Christians were at the time, in England celebrated May Day on the religious holiday of Whitsun featuring a quasi-religious rebel who robbed and murdered government tax collectors and wealthy landowners in plays and games. Agrarian discontent lay at the foundations of the feudal system that was built on the shoulders of toiling peasants. As time went on, the characters of Maid Marian, Friar Tuck and Alan-a-Dale entered May Day rituals as well. Robin Hood was actually shown at this time participating in Mariology, the cult of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Originally Maid Marian (or the French Marion) was a shepherdess associated with the Queen or Lady of May or May Day. Keeping this in mind, “the world’s foremost authority on Robin Hood,” author Jim Lees in The Quest for Robin Hood set forth that the hypothesis that Maid Marian may originally have been the personification of the Virgin Mary and derived from the older French tradition of a shepherdess named Marion and her shepherd lover Robin in Adam de la Halle’s Le Jeu de Robin et Marion, 1283. In fact, Marian’s association with May Day celebrations lasted long after Robin Hood’s did, as pointed out by Scottish born poet Alexander Barclay in 1500, “some merry fytte of Maid Marian or else of Robin Hood.”

May Day in the Catholic Church

The Legend of Robin Hood and Maid Marian

Here’s a May Day Celebration in England from the Days of Errol Hood and Maid Olivia:

Hell, even atheist Katie Hepburn celebrated May Day!

Here’s a majestically beautiful May Day ceremony in 2018 from a Catholic School in St. Louis:…

— Tim


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  1. Jean

    May 1, 2020 at 11:53 pm

    Hi! I’m a new member here. Thank you for the May Day photos and information. I lived in England in the 1970s and many English villages held May Day parades and festivals and crowned May queens. The May poles were especially delightful, as were the dances and music. Sadly, I understand from my friends in England that these activities aren’t as prevalent today.

    • Gentleman Tim

      May 2, 2020 at 5:43 pm

      Welcome aboard and thank you, Jean.

      May Days, May Queens, and Olivia’s Maid Marian, are things of beauty in almost any setting and time.


      • Jean

        May 3, 2020 at 1:35 am

        Thank you, Mr. Tim!

        Olivia looks absolutely exquisite in this photograph.