Friday, May 01, 2009

Happy Beltane!

Happy May Day!

Gather ‘round the maypole and dance with me! Let’s celebrate the ancient festival of Beltane.

Beltane is one of four fire festivals in the ancient Celtic calendar. These fire festivals, Samhain, Brigantia, Lugnassadh and Beltane were three day religious festivals marking the changing of the seasons. The party started the day before the festival and lasted until the day after.

Then, Beltane celebrated the start of the ‘light’ half of the year, the blossoming of flowers and budding trees. And in ancient times, men and women coupled beneath the trees in the forest to celebrate the earth’s new flowering.

Here, it’s May Day. A day to dance around the maypole, crown a May Queen and collect flowers to give out to friends. As a child, the day was celebrated in the Catholic church with a special mass. At the end, the eldest girls, wearing fresh flower wreaths in their hair, led everyone outside to place bouquets of flowers beneath the statue of Mary.

I loved it. I was allowed to wear a colored dress instead of my dull navy and green uniform. There were flowers everywhere and, except for Christmas, the only time the church looked beautiful to me.

I still love it. My backyard is full of bright tulips and the heady, sweet fragrance of lilacs. Yesterday, I saw the first group of new little ducklings and goslings in the park. I gathered bouquets of lilacs and crabapple blossoms for the dining table, my bedroom and studio. Here are some blossoms to share with you, pictures from my yard and the park where I walk my dog, Jilly.

I hope you're enjoying spring wherever you are!

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