Bealtaine, or May day, the first day of May, the first day of summer. At last it arrives and hopefully with it some weather which merits the title of 'summer'. Traditionally in Ireland, and still in some rural parts, and I'm sure England, some of the age-old practices are held up. The word Bealtaine comes from, buaile which is the high summer pastures which the cattle are moved to at this time of year, and tine which means fire in Irish. Bale fires were lit as beacons on hilltops.
It was also a good idea to leave out something for the fairies, as they are very active at this time of year too! Children love being involved with this. It's very simple really. Even just leaves and flowers along with some raisins, seeds or nuts arranged on a flat stone, or a wall or even a doorstep is enough. The thrill of knowing that the food will definitely be gone by morning is contagious! And it always is gone. Amazing!
There are lots of traditional games and songs associated with this seasonal celebration. While the May bush would have been popular, the Maypole would have been seen in areas that had an English influence. But it's such a lovely tradition that it has been adopted by a good number of people.
A length of pole with ribbons around one and a half times the pole length attached to the top is basically all you need. We stapled ours on and then wrapped another piece of ribbon around the top into which we placed fresh flowers.
Very few little girls need an excuse to dress up as a fairy, and even the boys get into the spirit of it. If the children are very young you can have them all walk in the same direction. But if they are slightly older you can have them weave in and out in opposite directions to each other. If your ribbons are in two different colours it looks wonderful when finished.
There are a number of songs you can sing with them as they walk. The most poular is 'Here We Go Gathering Nuts In May'. Some say it was originally 'Knots', which are posies of flowers, which makes sense to me.
'Here we go gathering nuts in May,
Nuts in May, nuts in May,
Here we go gathering nuts in May,
So early in the morning.'
If you are making a day of it you can organise lots of outdor games in celebration of the return of the sun. I'll be posting some ideas over the next week or so.
Welcome to Dandelion Songs!
"We are two mothers who want our children to know what childhood was like. Before Nintendos, before computers. Before fear of freedom. What it was like for us, and for our mothers, and their mothers. We want them to know adventure, to know play, to know the world. And not the controlled, organised world that modern mothers seem to think they are tied to, but the real, natural world that is here on our doorstep. Come and join us on an adventure in childhood."
Ciara & Líosa
Ciara & Líosa