It’s May Day. Some are scratching your heads. Beltane. Still scratching your head?
From the History Channel:
The Celts of the British Isles believed May 1 to be the most important day of the year, when the festival of Beltane was held.
This May Day festival was thought to divide the year in half, between the light and the dark. Symbolic fire was one of the main rituals of the festival, helping to celebrate the return of life and fertility to the world.
When the Romans took over the British Isles, they brought with them their five-day celebration known as Floralia, devoted to the worship of the goddess of flowers, Flora. Taking place between April 20 and May 2, the rituals of this celebration were eventually combined with Beltane.
Another popular tradition of May Day involves the maypole. While the exact origins of the maypole remain unknown, the annual traditions surrounding it can be traced back to medieval times, and some are still celebrated today.
Villagers would enter the woods to find a maypole that was set up for the day in small towns (or sometimes permanently in larger cities). The day’s festivities involved merriment, as people would dance around the pole clad with colorful streamers and ribbons.
May is named for Maia, the ancient Roman Goddess who was the incarnation of the earth mother and goddess of spring.
Those of us who went to St. Peter’s School at 4th and Pine in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia will always remember May 1 fondly. Heck if you lived near the school on May 1st you will always have May Day memories. Which is why I was a little wistful this morning when I realized there would be no Maypole or dancing at St. Peter’s today.
May Day, early 1970’s St. Peter’s
May Day was so awesome. We donned our spring best and we did many traditional Celtic things including dancing around the Maypole. The multi-colored ribbons being woven in and out as we danced. (Here is a video from the School in Rose Valley so you can see.) There were also pipe dancers over clay pipes.
May Day was one of the best things about being a kid back then. Ribbons and balloons and music. All your friends and parents were there. It was so joyful. (St. Peter’s photos found here – not mine.)
So Happy May Day to my childhood friends! Happy May Day to all of you!