The Hawthorn is known by a variety of different names, The May Tree, The Beltaine Tree, The May Blossom, The Whitethorn, The Quick etc. In Irish it is Sceach Gael but it is also know as the Faerie Tree for it is said to guard the entrance to the faerie realm. Iit is one of the woods used in the Hand fastening ritual as it will ensure a lasting relationship.
The Hawthorn is also known as a tree of protection and for this reason it will be found growing near a house. It will offer protection from storm and lightning.
On Beltaine it is the custom here in Ireland to hang strips of cloth or ribbons on a Hawthorn (especially if it grows near a well) in order to make a wish (the wishing tree of legend). This is also done to ask for Brigid’s blessing on the cloth as these will then be used in healing (I hand crepe bandages on ours). It is also the custom to hang strips of coloured cloth from the branches, blue for health, red or pink for love, green or gold for prosperity etc. These will then be used as bindings in the hand fastening.
The tree is strongly associated with the Fae, Thomas the Rhymer was said to have met the Faerie queen herself under the hawthorn.
A hawthorn night is said a to be spring storm night, with the promiss of dawn.
The sign offers a positive way into the otherworld. Protection, lasting relationships and wishes coming true.
Crataegus referring to the thorns of some species commonly called hawthorn, thornapple, May-tree, whitethorn, or hawberry. The name haw, originally an Old English term for hedge, applies to the fruit. Crataegus species are shrubs or small trees, mostly growing to 5–15 metres tall, with small pome fruit and (usually) thorny branches.
The saying “Ne’er cast a cloot til Mey’s oot” conveys a warning not to shed any cloots (clothes) before the summer has fully arrived and the may flowers (hawthorn blossoms) are in full bloom.
The custom of employing the flowering branches for decorative purposes on 1 May is of very early origin; but since the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1752, the tree has rarely been in full bloom in England before the second week of that month. In the Scottish Highlands the flowers may be seen as late as the middle of June. The hawthorn has been regarded as the emblem of hope, and its branches are stated to have been carried by the ancient Greeks in wedding processions, and to have been used by them to deck the altar of Hymenaios. The supposition that the tree was the source of Jesus’s crown of thorns doubtless gave rise around 1911 to the tradition among the French peasantry that it utters groans and cries on Good Friday, and probably also to the old popular superstition in Great Britain and Ireland that ill-luck attended the uprooting of hawthorns. Robert Graves, in his book The White Goddess. traces and reinterprets many European legends in which the whitethorn (hawthorn), also called the May-tree, is central.
Hawthorn trees demarcate a garden plot. According to legend, they are strongly associated with the fairies.
In Celtic lore, the hawthorn plant was used commonly for inscriptions along with Yew and Apple. It was once said to heal the broken heart.
In Gaelic folklore, hawthorn (in Scottish Gaelic, Sgitheach and in Irish, sceach) ‘marks the entrance to the otherworld’ and is strongly associated with the fairies. Lore has it that it is very unlucky to cut the tree at any time other than when it is in bloom; however, during this time it is commonly cut and decorated as a May Bush (see Beltane). This warning persists to modern times; it has been questioned by folklorist Bob Curran whether the ill luck of the De Lorean Motor Company was associated with the destruction of a fairy thorn to make way for a production facility.
Hawthorn trees are often found beside clootie wells; at these types of holy wells they are sometimes known as ‘rag trees’, for the strips of cloth which are tied to them as part of healing rituals. ‘When all fruit fails, welcome haws’ was once a common expression in Ireland.
According to a Medieval legend, the Glastonbury Thorn, Crataegus monogyna ‘Biflora’, which flowers twice annually, was supposed to have miraculously grown from a walking stick planted by Joseph of Arimathea at Glastonbury in Somerset, England. The original tree was destroyed in the 16th century during the English Reformation, but several cultivars have survived. Since the reign of King James I, it has been a Christmas custom to send a sprig of Glastonbury Thorn flowers to the Sovereign, which is used to decorates the Royal Family’s dinner table