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Celebrating May Day

Updated on May 1, 2017

Maypole Dancing on Village Green

Copyright by Paul Barnett Creative Commons 2.0
Copyright by Paul Barnett Creative Commons 2.0 | Source

May Day Is A Holiday That Dates Back to the Celts of Western Europe

May Day is a traditionn which dates back to the pre-Christian Celts of western Europe. Originally, May Day was an ancient pagan holiday celebrating the start of summer. In Gaelic traditions, it is known as Beltaine or Beltane.

The Celtic May Day honored deities of the natural world with traditions that are still practiced by some people today. Even though this is an ancient tradition, different groups have adapted the celebration to their specific cultures or beliefs.

Some people still celebrate May Day.. Will you? Please share if and how you celebrate this day in the Comments below.

May Day is a traditional holiday in many cultures. Many May Day revelers celebrate the season by dancing around a wooden May pole. It's an old Celtic custom which symbolizes Spring and the fertility of nature.

Weaving The Ribbons

Weaving: Verna Gates, a Special Instructor at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, tells us that, just as we do today, the ancient Celts would tie strips of cloth to the top of the May pole, weaving the fabric into braids as they danced.

"Weaving was a very important aspect of the May celebrations. You would weave the ribbons because you can take two strands of something and make another element out of it. And that's what you were doing in fertility was taking two and making three. And so they would dance around the may pole and some said that that was a time of courtship. You didn't marry in May, but you started the courtship in May and you married at Halloween."

Celebrate May Day

Enjoy May Day by doing something that gives you great pleasure. Try to be outdoors all day if you can. Let your natural joy find its best outlet!

May Day Plan

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May Day festivities, Forest Glen, Md.

[Washington, D.C. : Leet Bros., c1907] Medium: 1 photographic print : cyanotype. H95269 U.S. Copyright Office.
[Washington, D.C. : Leet Bros., c1907] Medium: 1 photographic print : cyanotype. H95269 U.S. Copyright Office. | Source
The Summer Solstice: Celebrating the Journey of the Sun from May Day to Harvest
The Summer Solstice: Celebrating the Journey of the Sun from May Day to Harvest

This book has photographs and artwork scattered throughout as well as some activities for celebration.

 

From May Day to Harvest - Celebrating the Journey of the Sun

In Celebrating the Journey of the Sun, the chapter "The Games of May" includes information on how May revels were celebrated, the festivities and rites, of fairies, and how to make a May Day garland.


Rituals of May Day

Ritual helps up deal with the chaos of life.

Rituals of Celebration: Honoring the Seasons of Life through the Wheel of the Year
Rituals of Celebration: Honoring the Seasons of Life through the Wheel of the Year

This book is "a great tool for developing a personal relationship to ritual,"

 

Rituals of Celebration

This is the book I use to learn to create a deeper experience in my life. Try The Wheel of the Year for yourself and your community using Sacred Celebrations and rituals.

"...craft projects that go hand-in-hand with each festival—perfect ideas for artistic expression whether you are practicing alone, with a group, or celebrating with children."

Dancing Around the May Pole

Have you ever danced around a May Pole?

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Dance Around The Maypole

"We forget that they believed in tree spirits. When you say knock on wood, that's an old, old Celtic custom that says 'tree spirit, come out and give me luck.' And they very much believed in the power of these tree spirits and it was quite a ritual to the young men to go out and collect the tree and to bring it back and to decorate it. And they would have a very structured dance around the May pole."

~~Jim Metzner, from Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History

Vanessa Redgrave - The Lusty Month of May - From the musical film Camelot

This is the song "The Lusty Month of May" from the 1967 musical film "Camelot" starring Richard Harris as King Arthur with Vanessa Redgrave as the beautiful Queen.

Camelot celebrates its 45th anniversary with the Blu-ray debut on April 24th, 2012.

Camelot With Richard Harris And Venessa Redgrave - Blu-ray 1967

"so corny you've got to love it" Rich Cline

This medieval tale recounts the story of King Arthur who seeks to establish a peaceful state by gathering together a force of knights. It's the story of the marriage of England's King Arthur to Guinevere. This feature won Academy Awards for Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction and Best Musical Score, as well as garnishing nominations for Best Sound and Best Cinematography.

Camelot celebrated its 45th anniversary with the Blu-ray debut on April 24th, 2012.

Month of May

"The advent of the merry month of May was a time of great celebration, when summer was welcomed by men blowing on cow-horns. Girls rose early to bathe their faces in the May morning dew, which was held to have curative and beauty properties. Blankets soaked in May dew were thought to be able to cure sick children wrapped in them. Wells were able to grant wishes on May Day. ... (But) Fairies are abroad today so don't leave your baby unattended lest it be kidnapped and replaced by a changeling." ~

May Day

Fairies are abroad today so don't leave your baby unattended lest it be kidnapped and replaced by a changeling. ~Brian Day

Fairy Legends And Traditions Of The South Of Ireland - 1838

This is a reproduction of a historic book published before 1923.

Faries

Do You Believe in Fairies?

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May Day by Azure Bleu

May Day by Azure Bleu
May Day by Azure Bleu

Return of the Sun:

"Beltain is the third and last of the spring festivals. It is a Cross-quarter day, marking the midpoint in the Sun's progress between the Vernal Equinox and Summer Solstice. The astronomical date for this midpoint is slightly later, around May 5 depending on the year."

Beltain - All Saints' Day

May Day is exactly a half-year from November 1. In the traditions of Northern and Western Europe, All Saints' Day marks the end of the uncomfortable winter half of the year in the Northern hemisphere. This day "has always been an occasion for popular and often raucous celebrations, regardless of the political or religious establishment."

Celtic Holiday of Beltain

Do you celebrate Beltain?

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Chronicle of Celtic Folk Customs: A Day-to-Day Guide to Celtic Folk Traditions
Chronicle of Celtic Folk Customs: A Day-to-Day Guide to Celtic Folk Traditions

This book contains details of more than 450 customs of the Irish, Manx, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish, and Breton Celts.

 

Celtic Folk Customs

This book is an easy-to-follow day-by-day guide of Celtic folk culture today. It features the celebrations, ceremonies, feasts, dances, games, crafts and superstitions which, together with many other aspects of folklore. Learn more about such Celtic festivals as Beltane and Lughnasa. It also contains an array of old recipes for different times of the year.

Celtic Britain Boxed Set / Mysterious Britain, Scotland Forever, Wales - A Nationhood
Celtic Britain Boxed Set / Mysterious Britain, Scotland Forever, Wales - A Nationhood

These DVDs feature location footage, authentic re-enactments and dramatized reconstructions.

3 DVDs tell the story of the Celtic lands of Britain, the great events, stories, myths and traditions which shaped Celtic Britain.

 

The Festival Book

This is a reproduction of a culturally important book published before 1923.

May Day With Children

May Day Is Celebrated In Hawaii As Lei Day

This book explains how this May Day is celebrated in England, where it originated over 700 years ago and describes how Hawaii came to embrace it as Lei Day and how local customs commemorate Hawaii's royal history. Beautiful photographs show how this day is celebrated throughout Hawaii.

"...children's book exploring the Hawaiian tradition of Lei Day, springing from the English Tradition of May Day. Showing the wide range of activities and their meaning on this annual Hawaiian event, "May Day & Lei Day" is a charming book." ~Midwest Review

How Do You Celebrate May Day? - I want to hear from you

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    • patinkc profile image
      Author

      patinkc 3 years ago from Midwest

      @clevergirlname: How do you celebrate?

    • clevergirlname profile image

      clevergirlname 3 years ago

      I celebrate May Day every year. It's tradition!

    • patinkc profile image
      Author

      patinkc 4 years ago from Midwest

      @evelynsaenz1: That must have been fun!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 4 years ago from Royalton

      We used to put May Day Baskets on neighbor's doors. My children learned to dance the maypole.

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image

      squid-pinkchic18 5 years ago

      My sister and I used to make little May Day baskets and fill them with treats, then drop them off on neighbor's doorsteps. So much fun :)

    • viscri8 profile image

      viscri8 5 years ago

      I grew up with Mayday being the Workers' Day -- went out and had pic nicks in the forest and played while the parents were drinking beer. Blessed you Mayday anyway -- all celebrations are good, and every reason to celebrate is a good one!

    • TapIn2U profile image

      TapIn2U 5 years ago

      Yeah this sounds fun! Sundae ;-)

    • profile image

      DebMartin 5 years ago

      Baskets of flowers on neighbor's porches before dawn. d

    • andreaberrios lm profile image

      andreaberrios lm 5 years ago

      This looks like so much fun! Great job :)

    • profile image

      MaggiePowell 5 years ago

      nice... I remember making may day baskets in school

    • greenspirit profile image

      poppy mercer 5 years ago from London

      Beltane Greetings!

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 5 years ago from Northern California

      May Day Blessings. @}-,-`-

    • four everamom profile image

      four everamom 5 years ago

      I was reminded this morning of the May Day baskets we use to hang on neighbors doors..I remember getting such a kick out of it.

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 5 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Just one day to go! What could be better? Thanks for a fun lens! ;-)

    • MSBeltran1 profile image

      MSBeltran1 8 years ago

      Beautiful work; I love this lens. I am lensrolling it to http://www.squidoo.com/wheeloftheyear_beltane. 5*

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      This is great, Pat! You've made another very interesting and informative lens about something that harkens to me over the ages. Act on your dream! JD

    • Euryale Sinclair profile image

      Euryale Sinclair 9 years ago from The Left Coast

      Congratulations! You are one of the "best" picks for The Best of Squidoo for May 2008.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 9 years ago from Royalton

      Fancy Nancy and The Frog Prince stopped by to check out your lens and love it so much that they are sending you a virtual invitation to Riverdance.Happy May Day!

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 10 years ago

      I love May Day! Great lens.

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