When I woke up this morning, I was pleased to see that it had dawned bright and sunny with a brisk breeze. It is absolutely gorgeous out in the garden. A perfect laundry drying day, which is just as well, as I have two loads out there flapping around getting dry. I also just noticed that it is the first of May.
May Day is traditionally a day for much celebration. Not just because Spring has definitely sprung, but actually the date is associated with celebrations for many thousands of years. The Romans honoured their flower and fertility Goddess, Flora, at the end of April and beginning of May. They would celebrate with dances, processions, games and sundry merriment. They also used to make sacrifices to the Earth Goddess Maia. Not much is known about this, other than the sacrifices were made in the name of Vulcan, the God of Volcanoes, and apparently Maia’s significant other. I do find it intriguing that Maia is the reason we have the month of May – she gave the month her name.
Celtic Druids has the feast of of Beltane, also on the 1st of May. They lit bonfires to honour the sun, leading animals between the bonfires, as well as people who were suffering a spate of bad luck. The Maypole tradition probably started with the druids as well, the pole allegedly being a phallic symbol for fecundity. In England, the Morris Dancing season starts on May Day as well. If you have never seen Morris Dancing, google a video or two. I think it is probably a reason for the English to be considered charmingly eccentric around the world!
The first of May is, in the Catholic Church, the beginning of one of the Marian Months. Often, Catholic Churches will have crowning ceremonies of their statues of Our Lady, and will have Marian hymns at Masses through the month as well. In addition, today, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of St Joseph the Worker.
I have a great devotion to St Joseph. What a guy. It is not everyone who could take on the job of being the Adopted Dad of the Creator… and he did it with such aplomb. It really doesn’t get bigger than that, does it? The major thing I like is that although he was from the line of King David, he was a working man. A hard working labourer, working with his hands. He was deemed worthy of teaching and raising the incarnation of the Divine, not some fat cat financial whizz, or a highly qualified professional of some sort. I love that.
So, it is quite appropriate that May Day is also the International Workers Day. I remember seeing the military parades in Red Square with all the rocket launchers and tanks and soldiers, when I was a youngster, watching the news with my Dad, but I never really understood the link to the workers of the world. Obviously now I realise that the Soviet Union was supposed to be the workers paradise if the paradigm of Communism actually worked in practice, but unfortunately the reality didn’t match the theory.
And finally, the last thing to mention about May Day, is how it is connected to a call for help. Well, that is about the corruption of language. May Day as a call for help, is a corruption of the French “Venez m’aider” which means come and help me.
So, today, I am going to be working in the garden to cultivate my floral tributes to Flora and Our Lady, helping people when and where I can, and doing hard laborious work to mark the day. Have a great weekend, and public holiday, if you are lucky enough to get one!