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It’s May Day!

Dancing 'round the May Pole

Dancing ’round the May Pole

What of it? It is the ancient holiday of Beltane, a day when the veil between worlds is thin and people may see fairies or other spirits. Beltane is what is called a corner holiday. It falls halfway between the equinox and the solstice, and is the calendar opposite of Halloween. Corner holidays mark the beginning of the seasons, while equinoxes and solstices mark the middle or height of the seasons.

One of the ancient and quaint customs for the celebration of May Day was dancing around a May Pole.  It is believed to be a survival of an early pastoral festival that accompanied the first turning of the herds out to wild pasture. The dancing was intended to increase fertility in the herds, fields and homes. May Day celebrations are still practiced  extensively  in the UK. In some parts of the United States, May Baskets are made. These are small baskets usually filled with flowers or treats and left at someone’s doorstep.

So get out there and build a fairy garden, bring a neighbor a basket of flowers or dance around a tree!

May Day Baskets

May Day Baskets

The Holly & The Ivy

Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe are the most prominent green plants in British native woodland during the winter, and for this reason they have earned respect from the early country-dwellers and a place in holiday traditions.

Holly & IvyIn ancient English village life there was a midwinter custom of holding singing-contests between men and women, where the men sang carols praising holly for its masculine qualities and disparaging ivy, while women sang songs praising the ivy for its feminine qualities and disparaging holly. The resolution between the two was under the mistletoe. When a couple kisses under the mistletoe, a berry is to be plucked from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the kissing privileges cease.

Why kiss under mistletoe? From the earliest times mistletoe has been one of the most magical, mysterious and sacred plants of European folklore. It was believed to bestow life and fertility and used an aphrodisiac.

 

Mistletoe2