As a child, May Day was one of my favorite holidays. The making of May Day baskets to hang on the neighbors door and collecting small flowers (aka weeds) for tiny bouquets was great fun. It seemed perfectly simple to me; on Halloween we asked for candy and on May Day we left flowers.
As it turns out May Day was actually closely tied to Halloween in the early Celtic and Pagan traditions. As Samhain, or Halloween, ushered in the Winter; Beltane, or May Day, ushered in the Summer. Both celebrations were seen as times when the veil between the mortal world and the Otherworld was thin. Unexplainable happenings could occur and communications with gods and nature spirits were possible.
With the arrival of Summer the focus of these communications were for healthy animals and bountiful crops. Bonfires were lit to symbolically burn off disease or negative energy. Celebrations were held in honor of the Goddess as Maiden, bearer of fertility. The Maiden was married to Lord of the Wood, (Green Man or Jack of the Green), and the Earth was renewed. This marriage has been symbolically portrayed in the stories of King Arthur and his Sacred Marriage to the land and in the legend of Robin Hood who weds the virtuous Maid Marian.
To insure the fertility of this Great Marriage the people assisted with the building of the energy. Through dancing and drumming they hoped to add strength to the magical union. Paring up with those to whom they were most attracted, (though not necessarily wed), for long hours of love-making under the trees was another form of symbolic magic. The celebration of Life and the indulgence in life’s pleasures was a way of saying “yes” to the Gods. Yes, we enjoy this life. Yes, we enjoy the pleasures of this human body. Yes, we celebrate fertility in all forms.
Have you read The Secret? Well, this is where it started. To put oneself in the energy (the acceptance) of that which one wants to experience. I wonder how different the world would be today if we had continued the practice of saying “yes” to Life. How would history have played out if we had not given so much focus to death and war?