Mayday is a very joyful time of the year. It is linked to the ancient pagan festival of Beltane, around the end of April to the start of May. It’s a celebration of fertility, creativity and happiness. Get high on the Mayday vibe and feel great all month.
DANCING ROUND THE MAYPOLE
This is an ancient custom that has been revived in many places and if you go to a Mayday fete you may be able to join in. It doesn’t take much imagination to see why the Puritans banned the jolly pole and its merry dancers. The phallic symbolism of the Maypole is obvious and the skipping and giggling was too much like a good time!
The tradition was re-instated by Charles II when he returned to the throne and good cheer came back to rural England. As the dancers weave the ribbons around the pole, so the web of life is spun and the fruitfulness of the earth is celebrated.
Dancing round the maypole also requires a little bit of concentration because the people taking part are supposed to weave in and out of each other, plaiting the coloured ribbons as they go. The great thing about this is that it’s forms a spot of pure mindfulness. While you think about your steps you forget any anxieties and loosen up. So when the maypole dance is finished you’re in the mood for more celebration!
Another attraction at fetes and fairs may be the local company of Morris people dancing for the crowd. If you’re a sport you’ll probably get the opportunity to take part! By no means all Morris groups wave white hankies. Many black their faces and clash wooden staves in very energetic moves.
Morris dances are a very ancient English tradition, often to raise money for poor families. Faces may have been blacked to disguise the dancers who were playing truant from mills and mines. Morris dancing was not for the faint-hearted. Men often got injured in fights, because groups tried to poach each others territory.
Many of today’s Morris people (and plenty of groups have a large proportion of female dancers) have pagan links, which means they like the idea of nature worship and may decorate their costumes with feathers, skins and animal figures. So when you watch Morris dancing spare a thought for the history and enjoy being part of some good, old-fashioned village fun.
CAR BOOT SALES
You’ll find plenty of these on the go around Mayday and they’re great if you enjoy strolling round, looking for bargains. Someone else’s old junk may be your fascinating collector’s item, that you capture for a few pence.
As a seller they’re a brilliant opportunity to make a little money from your unwanted items, and to chat with interesting people. If you want to make your efforts count, check out with experienced car-boot goers about what sells best, because it changes over time. Toys almost always sell well, however, and this is a great way to get children to turn out their cupboards and make some pocket money.
YOUR MAYDAY SPIRIT
Mayday entertainment and events are plentiful, but best of all, this is a time to indulge yourself and revel in the pleasures of being alive – which are often very simple. Try the following:
- A little mindfulness. Grab ten minutes peace in a lovely location. Bring all your awareness into the present, savouring sunshine or listening to the rain, looking at flowers, breathing the air and being in the ‘now’
- A special treat. What do you really enjoy? Maybe it’s curling up with a book or film, maybe it’s going for a leisurely walk, or gorging on a box of your favourite chocolates. Or perhaps you dream of treating yourself to a spa day, doing something daring like a sky-dive or gliding – or, if you’re in love, spending all day in bed with your lover. So just do it!
- Invite friends round for a Mayday party of barbecue. If everyone brings a contribution this doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive
- Bring some old-time Beltane blessing into your Mayday by gathering hawthorn and placing it around a rose coloured candle. Write a special wish on some pink paper, light the candle and as you visualise your wish coming true, burn your paper. Reward yourself with wine/fruit juice and some special cake – for this is a sensual season after all!
HOW WE CAN HELP
We’ve looked at some community activities you might like such as dancing round the Maypole, Morris dancing and car boot sales. There are also several personal ideas, for you to find your Mayday spirit. Above all, don’t let Mayday pass oversleeping followed by mooching around – plan it and enjoy it.
PUBLISHED: 01 April 2018