Headmaster’s Blog

The 1st of May is traditionally a time of celebration. May Day, an ancient festival which nowadays is marked in a variety of manners across (mostly) Europe – giving lily flowers in France, celebrating the ‘happiest’ day in Italy, dancing round the maypole in England, Walpurgis Night in the Netherlands and Germany (and beyond), and the May Morning choral service from the top of Magdelen Tower in Oxford, for example – marks the end of the winter months and the arrival of Spring and Summer. Whilst opportunities for these traditional celebrations will have been few and far today, there is – as I suggested to the Prep School during our Assembly together this morning – much to be thankful for this May Day.

May Day celebrates the passing of gloom – of rain, of clouds, of long nights and short days – and turns our minds to the warmth of the summer months – to sunny weather, longer days, growth, new life, bright colours, flowers, trees, birdsong, and to the promise of what is to come.

It may seem that there is not a great deal to celebrate at the moment: times are tough and the news can be scary. But actually, we agreed this morning, if we focus on some of the simplest things – on the gifts that we are given each spring and summer, on our loved ones, on new growth and on what lies ahead – in short, on hope – then we have a tremendous amount to be thankful for. I encouraged the School to focus on those causes of celebration over the next few days and to talk about them at home.

One such moment for us as a family happened during our after-school walk yesterday. We’d been NHS-rainbow-spotting in the windows of houses that we were passing, and I was losing 3 points to 4. We rounded the corner (having been caught in the rain shower) and there in the sky above us, and seemingly spanning the whole of Exeter, was one of the brightest and largest rainbows I’ve ever seen. We stood and we looked. We smiled and we took pictures. And we were thankful. Wet and very much regretting the last-minute decision not to bring coats – but thankful.

There may not have been any maypole dancing nor any (live) singing of hymns from the Magdelen Tower this year, but May Day has still – through change and chance – brought us a well-founded hope. Beauty, it seems, springeth out of nought – and for that we can all be thankful.

1 May 2020
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