Monday, May 08, 2023

May Day


As quickly as April appeared, May did the same thing. Turning the calendar over to another month seems to go faster these days. Of course, the first day of May does not exactly feel like the first day of May!

The month of May, the first of May is different from all the other months. All are spectacular, and have their own beauty, but May really does bring on the last of the spring months.

When I was a kid, on May Day, we danced around the Maypole. Now looking back at that, I have no idea who built the Maypole! I don’t even know if we were ever told the meaning of May or the Maypole, but did we even care? I think not! We wore our fancy dresses to school with those patent leather shoes and twirled through those ribbons on May Day. I do think it would be a bit chilly to be dancing around the Maypole on this day in a fancy dress. Maybe we wore leggings and jackets! Funny how I do not remember the details, just the fun.

I would love to hear of any school celebrating this day or your experiences as a kid on this day! The fact is no one told us May first was the Cross-Quarter Day between spring and summer and is known as Beltane. Halloween, the counter-part to May Day gets all the attention! It, too, is the cross-quarter day between Autumn and Winter.

May Day is also known at Beltane which is another ancient celebration. Whereas, Halloween celebrates spooks and impending darkness, Beltane celebrates just the opposite. Beltane celebrates tender evenings, and gardens in honor of Flora, goddess of fruits and flowers.

In Celtic times the May Queen, known also as Flora, was celebrated as the goddess of the flowers. She is also Lady Marian in Robin Hood and Guinevere in the Arthurian cycle! (Even if you have not read the Arthur tales, we all know “Camelot” and all the songs in that musical!) The May Queen also fights off the Queen of Winter sending her away for six months of so!

Not only did we dance the Maypole, we gathered flowers, and made flowers out of tissue paper to place in small cones and attached these offerings by pipe cleaners to door knobs of friendly houses. We used to make these in school and pass them out on our way home. Always, and I mean always, we hid in the bushes after we rang the doorbell to see the delight on someone’s face as they gathered up their treasure! For several years, Jonah and I did this! It was great fun making these small baskets and placing them on doorknobs.

I am not sure that anyone is dancing around the Maypole today or making baskets! However, most of us are involved in a bit of gardening. I checked out the Farmer’s Almanac for our area to give you a list of plants and seeds that could go into the ground this week. Surprisingly, there are quite a few as we keep in mind another frost or snowstorm would not be unusual for us!

So, what can we plant? Here is the list (alphabetically) for our area: arugula, carrots, chives, cilantro, dill, okra, onions, potatoes (if you have not already planted them!), parsley, peas, and turnips. Go ahead and get your garden ready to put these seeds or plants into the ground. For me, I am waiting for my once-a-year Mother’s Day gift of a load of mulch from Aaron, and someone to start up my little tiller.

In the meantime, it is May, the lovely month of May. In days of yore, villagers would gather on the hillsides throwing the last of the winter’s wood onto a heaping pile and setting it on fire. Later on, in the evening they would look into the hills or the woods watching for the faerie lights which were always summoned back to the gardens on this day. Of course, very few of us are looking for faeries on our lawn, but why not? My grandfather always had us listen for faeries during May. Did we hear them? That is my secret. In the meantime, it is May, the lovely, beautiful month of May.

Robert Fitzgerald (1910-1985) once wrote:

“Awake! And in the fires of spring

Your winter garment of repentance fling.

The bird of time has but a little way to flutter

And the bird is on the wing.”

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  The Trine University Theatre Company on closing night of The Matchmaker.