The end of winter is here and Southern New Hampshire has come alive with the Colors of Spring!
May Day is one of the world's principal festivals. Like many holidays, May Day has a pagan connection. The Saxons and Celts called the holiday Beltane. Bel was the Celtic god of the sun and Beltane was known as the "day of fire."
For the Druids, who lived in the British Isles, Beltane was an important holiday. May 1st signified when the year was divided into half; with the other half of the year ending on November 1st, with Samhain. Celebrations consisted of setting a fire. Cattle were driven through the fire to purify them, and sweethearts ran through the smoke for good luck.
The Romans came to occupy the British Isles and they brought with them the worship of Floria, the goddess of flowers. The festival known as Floralia began on April 28 and ended on May 2nd. Thereafter, the rituals of Beltane and Florialia were merged.
The Saxons celebrated the holiday beginning on April 30th. They participated in games and celebrating of the end of winter. Peasants bearing torches would march to the hilltops and ignite wooden wheels which they pushed down the hills and into the fields. Apparently, the Catholic Church outlawed the holiday, but the peasants continued to celebrate until the late 1700's. Villagers wore costumes and animal masks and they were lead by Diana, the goddess of the Hunt and Herne, the horned god. The night became known as Walpurgisnacht ... the night of the witches. The Celtic celebrations also included a hunt. Later, Diana and Herne came to be seen as fertility gods. Diana became the Queen for May Day and Herne became Robin Goodfellow.
During the middle ages, patrons celebrated the Feast of St. John, known as the Summer Solstice and May Day. Celebrations included choosing a May Queen and raising a Maypole. The single women and men danced around the maypole until they became "entwined." There were festivals and feasts. In the 1644, the Puritan Long Parliament stopped the May Day celebrations. When the Stuarts returned, the festivities of May Day were reinstated.
In modern times, the celebration of May Day is associated by some as being part of the working class struggle for an eight hour day. On May 1, 1886, there were national strikes in the United States and Canada.
Today, May Day is still celebrated, but is not considered a major holiday in America. May poles are erected and adorned with colorful streamers. Men, women and children dance around the may pole and as they weave up and down, they celebrate the beginning of spring!
Here are some pictures I took celebrating the arrival of spring!
Celebrate Spring ~ Have a joyous May Day
New Hampshire is a great place to Live... and It is a Great Time to Buy!
Disclaimer: Information herein may come from various sources, some of which may not be reliable and may change without any notice. Joan Whitebook does not guarantee or is any way responsible for the accuracy of the information in this blog and information provided is without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. Information on this blog represents the opinions and ideas of the author; comments by others may not express the views of the author.
Copyright © 2009 By Joan Whitebook, all rights reserved.*copyright "May Day - New Hampshire Celebrates Spring" Photos (c) 2009 - original photos by Joan Whitebook -- May be used with written permission only.
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