May Day

May day is an ancient tradition associated with Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers and spring. The May queen is still representative of Flora or Persephone her Greek counterpart.

Garlands of flowers were gathered and carried to her temple by exuberant, brightly dressed youths who wound their sweet blossoms round the huge marble column inside the temple. They then danced round the column, singing their praises to Flora. This celebration was known as Floralia, and lasted from April 28 until May 3.

In 1644 the Puritan Parliament issued a decree saying that all such “devilish instruments” as May poles has to be abolished. Eventually the celebrations were emancipated from their “pagan” origins and large May poles were erected  in England’s public squares or occasionally before churches, to ward off evil spirits that might abound at this time, during the transition between darkness to light.

If the wreath of flowers re present the spring goddess symbols, the maypole itself represents the tree of life and fertility.

For years it was the custom for women on May 1st to rise before dawn and walk deep into the woods seeking the Maydew of hawthorn branches to bathe their faces to ensure lasting beauty.

May Day is a joyful, colorful festival of spring. Unlike Halloween its polar opposite ( the festival of death), May Day brings with it the promise of the renewed life of the soul.


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