Happy May Day and Beltane Blessings!
The first day of May (or thereabouts) has been celebrated by many cultures in Europe as the first day of Summer, especially in early pagan cultures — from the Romans and their Festival of Flora on April 27th to my ancestral traditions, Beltane on April 30 / May 1.
In those days, the Celts celebrated Beltane (also their word for the month of May) as the Union of the Goddess and the Green Man… the fertility of spring and summer. Typical symbols of Beltane rituals included bonfires, special foods (especially those with floral elements and honey), dancing around the Maypole, Oak leaves to represent the Green Man and more.
The holiday was eventually incorporated into the Christian calendar (such as Walpurgis Night, commemorating St Walpurga, who christianized Germany). In some cultures the initial spiritual connection was lost, although some of the symbols retained — the crowning of the May Queen, the Maypole dancing by the “maidens” — clearly have pagan roots!
The Hawthorn — pictured above just before it reaches full bloom, and photographed in my neighbourhood — is considered by many cultures to be the May flower, or the Queen of the May. Its flowers were used to fill May Baskets, used in cooking and in cordials and syrups.
My Beltane altar was lit last night on Beltane Eve (for the Celts, the day started at sundown the previous night) and is dressed with elements in honour of the traditional Celtic celebrations… Oak and Rowan leaves (to represent the Green Man), pine bough and cones, a mini Maypole (with a clay goddess underneath, ready to dance✨), Beltane candle with ribbons and rose buds, loose incense, crystals, a goddess stone, an earth stone to represent the Green Man, and a smudge stick. A little “busy” but it works for me🌸🌳🌿🌾