If you live in Cali then you know that Spring is but a blink of the eye and then Summer is here.
Our Spring started in January this year, with beautiful blossoms on the Almond trees, it was a breathtaking sight(as it always is). You could see a blanket of white as far as the eye could see. Now this early in the year we have nuts on the trees. While I enjoy the 70 degree weather I feel for those of you still locked in winter weather. There is talk of a very severe drought here and limited water supply for irrigation, this would harm the crops. But enough of that…
May Day or Beltane is the day to celebrate the Earths bounty and fertility, it is a celebration of Life.
Beltane has been called by many names but the traditions have been the same. MayDay celebrations have been observed since before the coming of Christ in Pagan cultures; with dancing around the May Pole, the choosing of the May Queen and King, the Beltane bonfire, and feasts. Young or old this day holds much joy and fun for all.
I wanted to share this beloved tradition with you, so I dug up some interesting and fun facts.
May Day is rich in history and is colorful in it’s execution of it’s traditions.
Historically May Day has been observed by the Gaels and has it’s roots in Ireland. Today it is practiced by the Irish, Scottish, Manx, Celtic, neo-pagans and wiccans. It has been called by many names in many cultures, Beltane for the Irish and La Bealtainn for the Scottish and Celtic peoples.
Beltane is the half way point between Spring equinox and Summer Solstice.
May Day is celebrated in many ways as mentioned above; bonfire, wedding ceremonies, MayPole, the crowing of May Queen and King, visiting holy halls, and lots of feasting. Dancing of all kinds are represented.
In pre-christian times the celebration was dedicated to the goddess Flora, goddess of flowers and the walpurgis night celebration.
The May Pole is a Birch pole stuck upright into the ground with ribbons depended from it. The ribbons are held alternately by girls and boys or men and women, they dance around the pole going alternate directions until they meet at the base of the pole making a beautiful pattern, then they would unwind. There are many forms of dance with the Maypole graduating in difficulty.
While the US does’t celebrate Beltane publicly Maypole dancing can be found at festivals in which other traditional dancing is being held.
The May Queen, is picked from a group of 13 girls by the dancers, she is dressed in all white to represent purity and wears a tiara or crown. There is often a similar choosing for the May King. Then there is a ceremonial joining of the King and Queen and depending on the age factor this can get quite frisky! The King and Queen of May then reside over all the activities.
The Beltane Bonfire was lit the evening of the last day of April and allowed to burn until sundown May 1st. It was lit traditionally with a bundle of 9 different types of wood and wrapped with ribbons. Once the bonfire was blazing a smoldering brand would be taken to each household to ensure fertility throughout the summer months. There are several different rituals that go hand and hand with the bonfire, wedding vows are exchanged with the bride and groom leaping over the low coals, the same with vow renewals.
Most of all remember that Beltane is about fertility, sex and passion, have fun with it!
Let the celebration begin!