þri-milce, m.n: the old name for the month of May, “three-milkings”. (“three-mill-cheh”)


Detail of a miniature of woman milking a cow, who is licking its calf. England, S. (Salisbury?), 2nd quarter of the 13th century. British Library, MS Harley 4751, fol. 23. From The British Library.

                                    Swylce in burh raϸe

[embe syx niht ϸæs], smicere on gearwum,

wudum and wyrtum   cymeð wlitig scriðan

Þrymilce on tun;   ϸearfe bringeð

Maius micle   geond menigeo gehwær.

—The Old English Metrical Calendar (Menologium), lines 75b-79

Likewise, after six nights, beautiful Þrymylce comes gliding quickly into the citadel, into town, elegantly clad in adornments, woods and plants; May brings much of what is needed among a multitude of people everywhere. (trans. by K. Karasawa)

According to Bede’s De temporum ratione, May “used to be called Thrimilchi because in that month cows were milked three times a day, such was the fertility of Britain or Germania, from which the nation of the Angles migrated to Britain” (Karasawa, p. 101).

See Kazutomo Karasawa’s The Old English Metrical Calendar (Menologium) (Cambridge, 2015).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.