The Canterbury Tales, written in the late 1300s by Geoffrey Chaucer, is a collection of stories told by people traveling together on a pilgrimage from London to Canterbury Cathedral. At this time, pilgrimages were a common practice, since it was thought that one could pay penance for their sins simply by walking to holy places.
In the month of May, when every lusty heart stirs, and every man rejoices that winter is over and done with; when every knotted oak sprouts leaves anew and every beech tree bursts into bud; when every day the sun sheds more light and more warmth on the earth…in such time did they set forth on their way.
As they journeyed along the road, each person told stories about his past deeds—each one hoping to be the most entertaining and thus most blessed by God. The narrator declares that “in May he felt so full of youth and life that he was always bolder than at any other season.” He also comments on how lovely it is to hear “the nightingale sing his roundelay.”
The idea of spring in The Canterbury Tales is one of hope and rebirth—a time of newly-found energy when anything seems possible.
Spring is a time of beginnings: crocuses sprout from the earth, buds appear on trees and blossoms unfurl on bushes. In nature, animals are born while others return from warmer climes to their homes in winter. This is a time of potential when things can take root and grow and change.