“The new earth quickens as you rise.
The May Queen is waiting.
Feel the pulsing ground call you to journey,
To know the depths of your desire.
The May Queen is waiting.
Moving through the night, the bright moon’s flight.
In green and silver on the plain.
She waits for you to return again.
Do not keep Her waiting.
Her temper stings if you refuse to taste Her honey.
Surrender as enchantment brings
The first light of dawning.
Move with Her in sacred dance, through fear to feeling.
Bringing ecstasy to those who dare.
Living earth is breathing.
Loving through the night in the bright moonlight,
As seedlings open with the rain.
She’ll long for you to return again.
Do not keep Her waiting.”
– Ruth Barren, The May Queen is Waiting
May Day, also known as Beltaine, has long been celebrated as a holiday that celebrates the fertility of the springtime lands, and the sun. Celebrations to this day include the famous May Poles, bonfires, and dancing. With warm weather, and flourishing plants, it’s the perfect time to celebrate the potential nature holds. To help get you into the spirit of this time of year, I’m sharing 6 ways you can celebrate May Day or Beltaine alone or with your friends and family.
Beltaine is known for bonfires. A common tradition is to leap over the bonfire for luck and purification, but I would recommend the safer route of simply dancing around it instead (please do not jump over any bonfires!). Bonfires are a fun way to gather with friends and enjoy each other’s company. Bring some of your favorite beverages and snacks, add your favorite people and it’s the best way to spend a warm evening. No place for a bonfire? Try a fire pit, or in a pinch simply light a candle. A red, orange, yellow, or gold candle would be perfect for this occasion.
A food staple, bread has an association with fertility and prosperity, which is exactly what Beltaine or May Day is all about! Bonus points if you shape it into the form of the sun or make any breads that are yellow in color. That could include egg breads, breads that include saffron, or potato bread.
Make Dandelion Wine
Dandelions are growing in abundance this time of year. Don’t pull this useful weed! Instead try your hand at making your own dandelion wine! It’s the perfect drink for May Day, and has a lovely yellow/gold color.
Wine not your thing? Try your hand a mead! Honey, water, and yeast is all you need to make this delicious and ancient beverage. If you are looking for something a little different you can also make flavored mead with anything from fruits and berries to herbs like elder flower.
Dance Around the May Pole
Got a tall pole, a bunch of ribbon, and a little space? Celebrate the traditional way with a dance around the maypole, as you braid colorful ribbons around your may pole.
Protip: Swedish? Save this for Midsummer!
Traditionally it was custom to wash in the dew on the morning of Beltaine. It was said that women who washed their faces in the morning dew would be beautiful. Men who washed their hands in the dew would be good with knots. Practically now is also a good time to wash your gardening implements and make sure they are in good repair, as well as clean up any litter in or near the area where you live. If you live places with lots of spring pollen, now is also a good time to wash your window screens and windows once the worst of the pollen is over.
There’s still time to start your garden, especially if you are in the northern areas! Plant and care for the garden and plants you’ve planted. Care for them, and encourage them to grow! If you have no space for a garden, consider container gardening or decorative planters. There are many space efficient ways to enjoy the beauty and benefits of a garden without a sprawling yard. As you care for your plants, take a moment to consider how amazing they are. Growing from tiny seeds to the beautiful plants before you. Give thanks for the plants that make our lives a better place.
The best way to spend May Day or Beltaine is simply to enjoy it out in nature. Enjoy the new growth that spring brings, and admire the beauty of the flowers that bloom so brightly. Let go of your worries, if only for a day and embrace the wonder that is life, the wonder that is all around us. Live in the moment for this day and exist in a place of beauty, love and light.
What is your favorite way to celebrate May Day or Beltaine?