Saturday, 1 May 2010

Dancing in the May

Summer is a-coming in and winter’s gone away... my horn is glittering even though it’s raining here in the enchanted mists, because today is the time to dance around ancient stones and celebrate the end of winter.

On this day in ancient times, the Celts celebrated their fire festival of Beltane. They would build a great bonfire on the night of April 30th and dance through until dawn. May Day celebrations still happen all around the country with the traditional crowning of a May Queen (a maiden representing purity and beauty) and a May King (associated with the Green Man, a symbol of regrowth and fertility). The crown is usually made of flowers and leaves. Often there is a maypole as well with a traditional dance to entwine the ribbons and then untangle them again. It makes a pretty plait unless somebody goes the wrong way, in which case you just get a tangled knot. And if you're up early enough, you can forget expensive face creams because rinsing your face in the dew on May morning will guarantee you youth and beauty throughout the year… overslept like my author? Never mind, there’s always next year!

The most powerful dancing, of course, is best done at sunrise. That’s when the enchanted mists lie in the valleys awaiting the touch of the sun’s first rays. In the past (when she didn’t need so much beauty sleep) Katherine has danced at dawn with morris men in the Abbey courtyard at Bath, on a deserted hilltop in the English countryside, and in the eye of a white horse.

What did you do this year to celebrate the May?

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