Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day 2011

May Day used to be a big deal in this country. Hell, May Day used to be a big deal, period. People used to decorate and have parties. Girls would wear white dresses and dance around the Maypole wearing flowers in their hair. I don't know what the men did. I guess they watched.

We like to watch girls.

May Day is a fertility festival (aren't they all?) celebrating Maia, a Mother/Spring goddess (for whom the month is named) and Nature in its generative state. Maia (mother of Hermes) is the same as Flora is the same as Maya (virgin mother of the Buddha, just saying) and even sort of Mary (whose month the early Christian church made May, probably to co-opt the festivals of pagan Europe).

The holiday is related to Whitsuntide and to Beltane and to Walpurgisnacht and the Floralia. All the different cultures have festivals at this time of year. Or had, anyway. Christianity never saw a fun thing it couldn't try to ruin.


In the old days, they got up early on May Day to go out into the woods and wash their faces in the dew (seriously) and gather branches of hawthorn trees and then they'd come back into town, singing and decorating and whatnot. Then, you know, the maypole dancing (because, in those days, girls were into phallic symbols) and then the fornicating in the woods.

Basically, a good time had by all.

May Day, in my secular paganism, is the third big deal holiday of the year (after Candlemas and Easter). It is a festival of Springtime in full bloom. It falls halfway between the equinox and the solstice, so it is also the holiday celebrating the cusp of Summertime. On May Day you can start to think seriously about putting away the sweaters for another year.

Also, in my May Day festivities, we don't get up early and wash our faces in the dew. That dew is motherfucking COLD.

If Chiara were here for May Day this year (she's in Italy), I'd name her the May Queen. She'd wear a white dress and I'd put a crown of flowers on her and everyone at the big May Day party would have to pay her a compliment. She'd probably hate that. She'd like this bit, though - the Queen of the May just watches the other people dance, she doesn't dance, herself.

Chiara likes to watch other people dance.

We'd put up a big pole of some kind and have a bonfire and get drunk and think about sex and then, later, and not in the woods (because of how the woods are COLD) we could have actual sex. May Day is that kind of a holiday to me. I dunno. Seem like the best reasons I can think of for a holiday.

And, as ever, the main advantage of my secular paganism is the predictable scheduling of everything. You always know when you'll be having a party. None of this "first Sunday after the first full moon after the equinox" nonsense, like with Christian Easter.

So, come to my May Day party next year, I guess. Wear white and bring some flowers and a bottle of wine. I will provide the funk music and cheeseplate. That is all.

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