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May 1st – Chimney Sweeps Day

The days surrounding May 1st have long been associated with festivals and celebrations.

Chimney Sweep Day

The days surrounding May 1st have long been associated with festivals and celebrations. As far back as Roman times (and probably earlier), religious flower ceremonies were held. These slowly developed into month long festivals of ‘all-night revels’ involving plenty of debauched and indulgent behaviour.

Many European pagan festivals evolved around the beginning of May. By 900CE Britain and Ireland had ‘fire festivals’ to mark the start of the summer season and the blessing of domestic animals going to pasture. The Gaelic ‘Beltane’ festivals evolved from these and of course it wasn’t long before the Christians got on board. Later still, jumping over the flames was added to bring luck and prevent the fairies from stealing cow’s milk.

As chimney sweeping became more and more essential, the numerous sweeps and their masters took a rare day off, latched onto this festival day and brought their own mark to festivities and celebrations across the land.

And so May 1st is Chimney Sweeps Day!

May day festivities continue across Europe to this day, the common theme being fun and celebration. The famous Rochester Sweeps Festival in Kent is now a major international dance and folk music festival.

For modern sweeps, they probably don’t party quite as hard as their Victorian counterparts on May day. In fact, for many, it’s a quieter time of year – absolutely perfect timing to call and book them for your annual sweeping and beat the autumn rush.

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