May?

"Ne'er cast a clout til May is out."

My H says this means don't shed your warm clothing until the May Blossom is out.

I say it means not until the month of May is out (ended) - 1st of June

who's right? or are we both wrong?

jem
01:25 Fri 02nd Mar 2012
 
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Up here we take our woolies off in July- for 10 minutes, then put 'em back on again quickly for fear of hypothermia.
11:42 Fri 02nd Mar 2012 Go To Best Answer

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I was always told it meant till the hawthorn (Mayflower) was blossoming
but some of my friends agree with you. I think it's just one of those things that can be taken either way.
Waiting until the 1st of June to shed your winter woollies is rather late, wouldn't you say? After all, June 21/22 marks MIDsummer's Day! Hawthorn rather than month, surely. It's an old proverb, so I doubt whether the word 'out' was used to mean 'over' that long ago.
My great grandmother taught me this and she understood it as 'till the month of May is done' as you can still get hard frosts and even snow till then. However, I have heard the other version referring to the May blossom too.
I suspect it may be a regional thing so you could both be right lol x
I've always taken it to be the May blossom, but I know there are two schools of thought on this - and it can be jolly cold in June!
Always took it to be the May Blossom, otherwise it would be a bit late. In any case it says 'a clout', so you didn't have to discard everything, and in the past they just wore everything without taking it off all through the winter. Dirty devils if you ask me.
warm though, starby!
Don't take off yer simmet 'till end o' May...simmet= vest !
I was under the impression it was referring to the blossom, which is usually out in the beginning of the month.
heard as ne'er cast a clout till the may be out which to me implies the hawthorn...
lots of blackthorn in blossom at the moment - not in our garden yet but noticed it in penryn last weekend. more sheltered there.
I have a lot near me too and the hazel is full of catkins... spring is springing
"Spring is sprung,
the grass is ris,
I wonder where the birdies is?"

Don't know where that came from but I used to say it when I was young, thinking it was hilarious.
I think Quizmonster is right. All the same, the weather was a great deal colder during the Little Ice Age in medieval times, so people may well have kept their woolly mammoth cloaks on longer than is necessary now.
Starbuckone, don't forget

... Some say the bird is on the wing
How absurd
The wing is on the bird
Up here we take our woolies off in July- for 10 minutes, then put 'em back on again quickly for fear of hypothermia.
Never mind all that, what's "casting a clout" ?
The correct phrase is (I think) 'Ne'r cast a clout til THE may be oot. To 'cast a clout' means to remove a garment. So your H is correct Jemisa
Question Author
Mmmm! Looks as if we both could be right. Lovely to hear your comments, thankyou--
Starby, my old dad used to often use that little ditty about birds.
If he was alive today he'd be 108.

jem
a clout is, I think, a "clothe" - as in the singular of clothes - and so a garment. I don't know if it's an old, or a dialect form, or both. Cast, I presume, means cast off.
So clout is clothing? Right, I'll take me third vest off then (It's bit nippy in ther Fens)

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