Dutch folk medicine recognised FENUGREEK seeds cooked in water until the whole consistency is like a paste or porridge, to use as a hot compress to treat this condition (Van Andel).

Matricaria matricarioides > RAYLESS MAYWEED Matricaria recutita > SCENTED MAYWEED MAY

HAWTHORN is known as May, and thereby lies the confusion between tree and month. "Ne'er cast a clout till May is out" means do not put on any new clothes till the unlucky month of May is over, the month being represented by the tree. May, the tree in flower, is just as unlucky, particularly unlucky to bring indoors. "It brought illness, etc.," with it, according to Devonshire belief (Devonshire Association. Report & Transactions; 1971), and in Somerset may well cause death in the house into which the blossom is brought (Elworthy). Cheshire children are forbidden to bring it indoors, the belief being that their mother will die if it were done (Hole. 1937):

May in Coffin out, in fact (Igglesden). The hawthorn that can be taken in the house on May morning might represent a ritual breaking of the taboo on the May festival, and he, or more usually she, who breaks it might be entitled to a reward. In Suffolk, for example, any maidservant who could bring in a branch of hawthorn in full bloom on May morning (it would surely have to be old style), was entitled to a dish of cream for breakfast:

This is the day, And here is our May, The finest ever seen, It is fit for a queen,

So pray, ma'am, give me a cup of your cream (Gurdon).

"Dew from the hawthorn tree" has special properties at this time (in fact, any May dew has).

In some parts of England, Devon and Cornwall for instance, May is the regular word for a sprig of ELM, not hawthorn, gathered early in the morning of May Day (Friend. 1882).

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