Today’s snail mail brought me a wish for a Happy Beltane – the first day of May. This ancient Celtic May Day celebration marked the beginning of spring and the time when farmers drove their cattle out to summer pastures. Both cattle and people walked between two fires to protect them from disease. While this ritual and dancing around the May-pole, the Hawthorne tree cut and decorated with ribbons for the festivities, have disappeared with many cultural traditions, there are still neopagans who either participate in Beltane Bonfires, or just greet their friends on this day in the name of ending winter.
In the Catholic Church we have a May Crowning and in many churches there is a parade around the church with a few strong men carrying a statue of Mary. Once they return to the Church, a wreath of flowers woven together gets ceremoniously placed on Mary’s head. This is followed by hymns and prayers and the month of May is dedicated to Mary.
The blossoming trees have usually all flowered by this time and most people are enchanted by the soft pink and white petals that only last until strong winds and rains bare the branches in readiness for new foliage and the onset of summer. The tulips follow the daffodils and last a few days unless the local deer dine on them before they have a chance to open. This year I got one yellow tulip that has gone unnoticed by the animals and it could be that one was not enough to lure them that close to the house. It would be easy to sigh as the blossoms disappear except that they are usually followed by lilacs and I swoon at the scent as well as the beauty.