Now I’m more of a Samhain girl to be honest- there’s something about the dry smoky air on those dark evenings that warms my soul- yet today I find myself all nostalgic for Beltaines past. Not that we call it that here anymore, these days it’s just May Day like everywhere else. But I was chatting to my mum earlier and it got me thinking again about all the little paganish traditions that still surround the festival.
It’s another glaring example of the way in which St Patrick absorbed pre-existing local customs into the new religious tapestry that would come to shape Christian Ireland to the present day. Paddy put his own slant on it, of course. While in the days of old Beltaine was an occasion for frolicking naked round bonfires and ushering in the summer, he made it all decent and Catholic by replacing the promiscuity-promoting Mother Goddess with the chaste Virgin Mother.
And so now May is the month of Mary, the first of which is supposed to be spent in honour of the good lady. I remember in primary school we would have the ‘May Procession’ today, which entailed every single pupil wandering round the local convent gardens in a big line while singing hymns to Mary- for hours. Kinda mad when you think about it. I wonder do they still do it? There are so many more kids in that school now it would be a nightmare to organise, and scary to watch!
Another, fonder memory I have is of waking up on the morning of May 1 to find flowers and petals sprinkled all over our front door step. We never really knew who left them or why but I was asking my mum about it today and she said it hasn’t happened for the past two years. It’s sad to think, but whoever used to do it has probably died. Or maybe it really was the fairies, but then why did they stop? I feel an urge to start doing it now for my own neighbours, especially the ones with children. I’ll have to try and remember for next year.
Anyway, I could ramble on all day about this sort of thing but I’m going to have to cut myself short. I’m having internet connection troubles at the minute and if I don’t act fast I may not get this posted at all. The web pixies are giving me small windows of connectivity so I have to make best use of the time. I know what the problem is and hopefully I’ll get it sorted in the next couple of days. For now, though, I’m getting reacquainted with my offline life. Well, hope you’re all having a lovely bank holiday weekend!