Today is May Day, a grand tradition in many countries. Celebrations abound for spring- May 1 is another of the pagan holiday periods that were “Christianized”- the Christian church replaced various pagan rites with their own holidays- The spring rites were turned to Easter celebrations just as the fall rites were changed to All Saints Day and Christmas. The fall Irish holiday of Samhain was six months after the Irish holiday of Beltane. So, November 1 and May 1 were very big deals back then.
Beltane was the beginning of the summer season of growth and the herds of livestock were let loose into the fields to graze. There were huge bonfires to celebrate the end of winter. Samhain was the opposite- it was the celebration of the end of growing season and the last hurrah before winter set in. Bonfires were lit then as well.
I like to imagine all the fun and friendship around those various bonfires. I also imagine the liquor and other intoxicants flowed freely and many children were conceived around those fires- perhaps there’s a story there festering in my head.
May day now is much tamer. Some tradtions are to bring flowers (posies)and hang them on a door as a gift, a Maypole dance with ribbons, a queen of the May, parades and various other tamer exercises. It seems almost every culture has some celebration of spring. Some even have this day as their “labor day”- Asia, Europe, and the Americas, including Hawaii, where May 1 is Lei day, all have wonderful traditions for this time of year.
In Pensacola, it is usually Crawfish Festival time. I hope this tradition will continue. It seems a little scary now for our sea food diet (and I’m not talking mud bugs right now) what with the oil spill in the Gulf here. What a great loss to this area- our eco system in turmoil. I am greatly saddened. AND it is sure an ugly day here, too- windy, overcast and dark- no May Day flowers brightening a sunny day. Adieu.
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