May is the fifth month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the third of seven months to have a length of 31 days.
May is a month of spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. Therefore, May in the Southern Hemisphere is the seasonal equivalent of November in the Northern Hemisphere and vice versa. Late May typically marks the start of the summer vacation season in the United States and Canada that ends on Labor Day, the first Monday of September.
The month of May (in Latin, Maius) was named for the Greek Goddess Maia, who was identified with the Roman era goddess of fertility, Bona Dea, whose festival was held in May. Conversely, the Roman poet Ovid provides a second etymology, in which he says that the month of May is named for the maiores, Latin for "elders," and that the following month (June) is named for the iuniores, or "young people" (Fasti VI.88).
Mayovka, in the context of the late Russian Empire, was a picnic in the countryside or in a park in the early days of May, hence the name. Eventually, "mayovka" (specifically, "proletarian mayovka") came to mean an illegal celebration of May 1 by revolutionary public, typically presented as an innocent picnic.
Special devotions to the Virgin Mary take place in May. See May devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Eta Aquariids meteor shower appears in May. It is visible from about April 21 to about May 20 each year with peak activity on or around May 6. The Arietids shower from May 22 – July 2, and peaks on June 7. The Virginids also shower at various dates in May.
- May's birthstone is the emerald which is emblematic of love and success.
- The May birth flowers are the Lily of the Valley and the Crataegus monogyna. Both are native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe, and in the southern Appalachian Mountains in the United States, but have been naturalized throughout the temperate climactic world.
- The "Mayflower" Epigaea repens is a North American harbinger of May, and the floral emblem of both Nova Scotia and Massachusetts. Its native range extends from Newfoundland south to Florida, west to Kentucky in the southern range, and to Northwest Territories in the north.
- The zodiac signs for the month of May are Taurus (until May 20) and Gemini (May 21 onwards).