01 May 2014

May Day

Can you believe it's already the first of May?  May Day! Or International Workers' Day, if you're a laborer. Particularly, for some reason, if you were a chimney sweep or milkmaid in centuries past.

Thomas Sevestre: 'Jack in the Green, May Day Celebrations
of the Chimney Sweeps of London', 1850
In many cultures around the world it's a big day for celebrating. If you're leaning toward Celtic ritual, it's the Feast of Beltane, so be wary if you happen to be near any stone circles with a cleft stone*. For you Germanic types, it's Walpurgisnacht or Walpurgis Night (which is actually the night of April 30 but we won't quibble).

They're all very pagan, these festivals, but while I was in England I witnessed the Jack in the Green festival in Hastings and what a riot it was! You really can't go wrong with feasting, dancing, music, bonfires, and really big people wandering about!

Jack in the Green floats and revelers lined up for the parade

Why, hello there.

I do miss the English traditions and celebrations but have the feeling I would be hastened to an asylum were I to walk outside dressed like this:

But when it's for a parade and everyone's invited - nay, expected - to participate, then one must get into the spirit of things. Even Flora made an appearance, with her own crew, yet.

Flora, goddess of flowers and the season of spring

Spring is definitely a festive season, when the earth comes alive with flowers and the promise of bounteous harvests, and when we can shed our thick winter coats and dance around in robes of flowers. So grab your May Pole and some Morris Dancers and have fun this weekend! (Just try not to get arrested.)

*A reference to the historical fiction series Outlander. If you're a fan, you'll understand.

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