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May Day has had many different meanings for diverse cultures and countries over the past decades. In today’s day and age, it is a time to celebrate the season of Spring. This public holiday is celebrated every May 1st.
The holiday is a day of togetherness, unity, and rebirth. A time for everyone to come together and celebrate life.
Throughout the years, people have had different festivities, meanings, and representations to celebrate May Day. This holiday is one of the four ancient Celtic cross-quarter days. The Celtic’s called it Beltane.
Beltane is an astronomical holiday due to it falling between March equinox and June solstice. The Celtic’s celebrated this spring holiday with dancing, singing, and special bonfires.
People still celebrate Beltane — May Day — by:
- Creating flower crowns. They either gather wildflowers or spend some time taking a trip to a flower farm or greenhouse. This can be done by using wire —or preferred flexible material — shaped to a person’s head. Then they trim the flowers leaving about three inches on the stem. They then wire or tape the flowers to the wire ring. People can fill in the empty spaces between flowers with greenery, baby’s breath, and such.
- Making mini maypoles. Or if people have time set up a real maypole — complete with wildflowers, ribbons, and streamers.
- Whipping up some fairy cakes. This is done to honor woodland spirits and fairies.
- “Getting busy.” Some people spend their May Day — Beltane — “reconnecting” with their partners. Many try to find a secluded outdoor setting to “reconnect” with each other and nature at the same time.
- Having a red and white-themed potluck. Beltane has strongly been associated with the colors white and red.
- Building an enormous fire. Beltane is a fire festival. Jumping over the celebratory fire is supposed to heal old wounds and bring good luck.
Some people celebrate May Day by decorating house doors and animals with yellow May flowers and ribbons. In many communities in Ireland, people visit special wells which were believed to bring youthfulness and beauty to those around them.
Many English villages would set up maypoles to celebrate May Day. Villagers would take to the woods to find the perfect maypole. These poles symbolized male fertility — baskets and wreaths symbolize female fertility.
The 19th century brought a new meaning to May Day; as many countries started to attribute the day to other things. For example, it is also known as International Workers’ Day. In the United States, this means a wight hour workday.
Celebrating May Day is a way to welcome in spring. A celebration many people enjoy — in one form or another.
Written by Sheena Robertson
National Today: May Day – May 1, 2021
Moody Moons: 12 Ways to Celebrate Beltane
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Amy Ross’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Susan Reimer’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License