Tomorrow is Beltane, one of the four seasonal festivals celebrated by the Celts. It’s one of the biggest Pagan celebrations of the year. It’s an old celebration, mentioned in early Irish literature and mythology. Today, Pagans still celebrate with old customs, including bonfires, may poles, and a lot of food and dancing.
When the Catholics moved into Ireland, they took all the old festivals and instead of banning them they simply made them Catholic. So the month of May is dedicated to Mary. Needless to say, the English Puritans hated it. Your loss, Puritans.
It’s also May Day, a day when children deliver flower baskets to family and neighbors. I made these in school as a kid, but I haven’t seen a May Day basket in years. Do kids still make these? We always made them out of empty strawberry cartons and strips of paper. I remember them fondly. We left them on porches. If you still do this in your family, let me know – I hope some people are carrying on the tradition!
On a completely different note, May Day is also International Workers Day, a labor holiday celebrated all over the world. It’s especially big in communist countries, so the socialist-phobic United States has Labor Day in September instead. That being said, May Day is a popular day for honoring immigrants and all workers in the USA with rallies and protests.
Some, but not all, pagans see May Day as a day to celebrate sexuality. If you are celebrating sexuality in a hands-on manner, (ahem) make sure you have enthusiastic consent from everyone involved and use protection. No one wants a case of Beltane gonorrhea.
I hope that regardless of your religious background, you enjoy this time of year – and I hope that in parts of the US that are still getting snow, spring finally arrives. Mental Floss has a fun article about May Day – enjoy!