Why do we celebrate May Day?

May 5, 2021 | Festivals

After Easter the sun grows daily in strength and by the time blossoms appear on the trees and the flowers begin to bloom, our hearts are lifted out of our heavy bodies. Now comes the time to celebrate, to dance around the Maypole, wear flowers in our hair, and live more strongly out of doors.

Tra La, it’s May, the lusty month of May

That cheery month when everyone goes blissfully astray.

It’s time to do a shocking thing or two.

Those dreary vows that everyone takes, everyone breaks,

Everyone makes divine mistakes! The lusty month of May.

          ~ Queen Gwenevere sings in Camelot

May Day, 1st of May known as Beltane in our Celtic lands, and celebrated by the Romans recognizing the goddess Flora – in latter years it also been called International Workers’ Day and used to be a day (when I was a child) when young men would riot!

For all people in the Northern Hemisphere we are celebrating the arrival of summer. Beltane honours Life. The trees have burst forward and “green-up” is everywhere. Suddenly life is abundant again. In the Old Celtic traditions the Wheel of the Year tells a love story between the Oak King and the Earth Goddess. Flora, the May Queen and the Young Oak King fall in love and on May Day they marry and the May Queen becomes pregnant. Together the May Queen and the May King are symbols of the union of Earth and Sky the completeness of nature.

For us as a Waldorf family the May Pole Dance is a joyful experience, and often the centre of the May Day celebration.  The May Pole often bears garlands and symbolizes the tree of life and growth of spring vegetation. This festival is often celebrated as an entire school community. In most Waldorf schools, children from each grade take turns doing a May Pole dance. The patterns get more complicated as the children mature.

It’s a wonderful time of the year and a great time to move ideas, hopes and dreams into action.


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