May 1 or May Day is also celebrated as the Celtic festival of Beltane. Beltane, which means bright fire, is a time of celebrating Spring at its energetic peak. It is a time of honoring the Goddess as Maiden and May Queen, her male cohort as Jack in the Wood or the May King. Together they represent the Divine Pairing of Earth and Sky, God and Goddess.
Hand-fasting or “tying the knot” was common at this time, as was Going A-Maying–spending time in the forest, collecting Hawthorne branches and/or reenacting the marriage of the God and Goddess (often resulting in Beltane babies 9 months later)!
Probably the most famous symbol of May Day is the Maypole. I have an ancient childhood memory of a May Festival in elementary school and dancing the maypole. The pole, a phallic symbol, is set to stand in the ground. A wreath of hawthorn and/or other flowers (sign of the Goddess’s fertility) is tied to the shaft. Dancers weave colorful ribbons around the pole symbolizing the union of the God and Goddess.
How you can bring some of the energy of May Day into your day:
- Flowers–bring some floral beauty into your home or place a Spring wreath on your door. Or conversely, plant some flowers or work in your garden.
- Spend time in nature–stop by a park, go for a walk in the woods, if you can, take off your shoes and feel the earth under your feet.
- Light a fire–even if it is only a candle. Give to the fire anything you need to release. Take light and heat from the fire.
- Make love–embody the divine lovers, honoring whichever type of union you are in.
However you decide to celebrate, Happy Beltane!