The traditions of May Day over the past few generations have slowly started to disappear. If you ask your Grandparents they may remember a time when May Day was celebrated in their community or even in school. They would wake up early on May 1st to collect flowers to place in a basket on an unsuspecting neighbors door knob and run before they were discovered. A Maypole would be constructed with a rainbow of colored ribbons for the children to dance around.
May Day is a celebration of flowers, fertility, life and the welcoming of Summer. The history of May Day can be traced back to the Northern Hemisphere in Europe. In pre-Christian times it was called Floralia, the festival of Flora, honoring the Roman goddess of flowers.
Beltane is a Pagan Celtic holiday which means "The Return of the Sun" and is celebrated to welcome the beginning of Summer. They believe that the Sun was held prisoner by the Winter months. On Beltane the Sun was released and they would celebrate with huge bonfires and a feast to mark the occasion.
As Europe became Christianized, May day became known as a secular holiday that was celebrated with the dancers of the Maypole. This colorful dance of winding and unwinding the rainbow of ribbons symbolizes the lengthening of the days as Summer begins. It is said that the dance is a way to give thanks for life and the pole acts as a giant magic wand in the celebration of Summer.
At the Rose Tent, we held a May Day celebration for women and girls. The response was incredible. We connected with the Earth in the garden while we harvested greenery and flowers to create flower crowns. We guided the girls to start a dialog with the plants. They practiced asking the plant if it is okay to have branch or a flower, listening to their intuition and then harvesting. We talked about offering corn meal back to the Earth as a symbol of being thankful. The girls loved giving the corn meal back to the Earth as much as harvesting the flowers.
It was such a joy to create May Baskets with this community of women and girls. They colored cards, created lavender sachets and picked packets of seeds to add to the baskets. On May 1st they are encouraged to add flowers from their yards and hang these beautiful baskets as an act of kindness on someone's door.
Happy May Day!