Walpurgis Night and Beltane
May 1st is truly a unique day, as the horror of the mysterious witches’ magic of Walpurgis Night (= the night from April 30th to May 1st) is followed on the gray morning by the bewitching magic of reawakening life. In Celtic mythology the night from 30th of April to 1st of May is called Beltane and marks the beginning of summer. Beltane was popularly known as a fire festival, where the herds were traditionally driven between two fires for blessing and purification.
Tests of courage such as jumping or dancing through fire were also very popular in early modern times. Markets, meetings and court days were also held at Beltane, which ended with dancing and music. Even today there are May hikes or May dances.
The most well-known May custom of setting up the maypole.The maypole is mostly an evergreen coniferous tree, a particularly slender spruce or fir, which of course has a mystical meaning. The tree itself and thus also the maypole in particular a symbol for becoming and passing away, but in particular for maturing (maturing youth). It is not for nothing that such a coniferous tree has become a Christmas tree (symbolism; birth, life and growth)!
Especially in Scandinavia the maypoles also play a central part in the celebrations of Midsummer, which is th next festival in the Celtic circle of the year. It is decorated with flowers and cloth while people are dacing around it.
For lovers of folk tales we have also prepared a special folk tale for you THE MAYPOLE OF MERRY MOUNT from the collection of Twice Told Tales By Nathaniel Hawthorne.
This magic can already be seen in the special quality of the day in the calendar, since May 1st falls on the same day of the week as the New Year’s Day of the following year, and no other month of the current year begins on the same day of the week as May.
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The Celtic Circle of the year
The Celtic Circle of the year knows four days that mark the most important festivals of the year.
- Samhain (1st of November, beginning of winter)
The 1st of November is the day after Halloween. On Halloween the dead walk amoung the living and provide a backdrop for many Scary Folk- and Fairy Tales.
- Imbolg or Saint Brigid’s Day (1st of February, beginning of spring)
- Beltane (1st of May, beginning of summer)
- Lughnasadh (1st of August, beginning of autumn)