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May Day

May  1st.  May Day.  To some this just means a Bank Holiday Weekend and being paid for a day off.  But it is a day steeped in history that has endured over the centuries.

May Day was adopted from a Roman tradition to celebrate ‘floralia’, which was all about celebrating the Goddess Flora who represented nature and fertility.  Meanwhile, to the Pagans/Druids it was known as Beltane, a day that marks the beginning of summer.  Out with the old, in with the new.

More recently Michael Foot the Labour politician in 1978 made it a Bank Holiday to associate it with National Labour Day.

So, we have Mr. Foot to thank for the day off.

May Day holds a deep meaning for Pagans; it is a reminder of life’s enduring cycle of life … birth, living and death.  The main focus for all is the natural world and celebrating that.  You may have heard of the ‘May King’.  This was more a Druid tradition.  Sacrifices by fire were made and these were normally wooden puppets … the May King … burnt as the sacrifice to the Gods. 

In the years before it was banned (yes it was banned by the Puritans) as it was classed as blasphemous celebration, people used to decorate homes and trees etc. with flowers and floral displays. 

Once it was reinstated during the reign of Charles II is when it became more of a ‘general celebration’.

May poles were significant, initially trees would be used as the May Poles and this continues to the present day where in some places May Day is still celebrated, but as Beltane not so much dancing around the May Pole.  The fire ceremony is popular in certain places in the UK as the fire burns away the old and brings in the new. 

Whatever you may be doing on May Day, please spend a thought that this is a tradition that spans and endured for thousands of years.  When you look at it that way, we are not a lot different from our ancestors.

Have a wonderful May Day.


Shelly x

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