“May Snow” is something that none of us are keen to welcome but it is a phenomena that we have all known.
William Shakespeare, like the rest of us was not keen on ‘May Snow” in ‘Love’s Labour Lost’, he wrote:
“At Christmas I no more desire a rose
Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled mirth;
But like of each thing that in season grows. (1.1.105)”
But if we get snow we might as well make the best out of it.
In this province our ancestors and government insisted “May Snow” should be bottled and used as a remedy to cure sore eyes.
A brochure printed by the government of Newfoundland in 1955, titled “Historic Newfoundland and Labrador” stated:
“Many old people testify to the efficiency of this strange cure.”
The “Dictionary of Newfoundland English” observed:
“Snow from the first snowfall in May would be collected because it was supposed to have healing powers. It would be used to cure sore eyes. It was called May water.”
J. K. Crellin, in his book “Home Medicine: The Newfoundland Experience” offers a suggestion for those unhappy with their complexion. Crellin in his research discovered that one’s complexion would be improved by soaking one’s face in the first snow in May month.
Snow is associated with purity and innocence as in the expression “as pure as the driven snow.”
Another expression that is deeply rooted in the folklore of many communities in Newfoundland and Labrador is the expression
“A snowfall in May, will take freckles away.”
It was not uncommon for the young Irish girls to bathe their faces in May snow water with the wish and the prayer that their freckles would disappear. The expression is countered by another wonderful old Irish saying
” A face without freckles is like a night without stars”
Let us embrace our weather, take it as it comes. Let’s bottle this May snow. It truly is good for sore eyes!!
Recommended Website: Environment Canada: http://www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/city/pages/nl-24_metric_e.html