Not much celebrated in the western world after the mid 20th century because Soviet Russia aka USSR used it for military parades. Remember those photographs of missiles and tanks rumbling down Main Street Moscow? That was the May Day Parade. The Novelist and Poet Margaret Atwood used it as a synonym for “Mayday!” in her brilliant novel titled The Handmaid’s Tale. The novel describes the Televangelist’s Dream come true. A world where a level of oppression present in everyday life makes George Orwell’s tame dystopia in 1984 begins to resemble a muppet movie.
The original pagan holiday, much like most holidays we currently celebrate, is closely tied to the turning of the seasons. May Day or Beltane is the fertility celebration of spring and growth. It is the mirror image of Samhain or Halloween, the celebration of harvest and plenty, and of death or dying.
I propose that we reclaim May Day as a celebration. It is traditionally a time of leaping over fires to “burn away the bad luck” and of change, rededication, growth. Think of growing things in the garden sprouting up, asparagus stalks, lettuces, and peas. Think of fertility, change, and new attitudes. Waking from winter slumber. Infusing the spirit with new purpose. Growth, celebration, happiness.
A little over a decade ago I gave up anger for May Day. Imagine the Catholic celebration of lent but applied to the whole coming year. A real change rather than a temporary dedication. The hardest thing for me about giving up anger was driving a car. I am not sure why that surprised me, it is obvious in retrospect. I did give up anger and it changed my life. I am giving up anger again this Beltane. I believe that my life will change for the better as much as it did that May Day over a decade ago. What is it that you can release? What is it that you can let go of that will make your life better?
On this day not so very long ago, one of our closest friends was murdered. No one knows why. No one will ever understand. No one will achieve closure. He was the friendliest person imaginable. He would rather buy someone a drink than fight. Honor his memory. Let go of what is holding you back. Release your fears. Discard your baggage. Love those around you in his honor. Reclaim this day. May Day.
I ask that you look inside yourself and release what is holding you back. Let it go into the fire. Release it, and grow as a human being. In the 12 months ahead, I ask that you make sure that you are acting like a decent human being. It is easy. It is freeing. Much easier than being miserable, suspicious, paranoid, cynical, and bigoted. Let it all go. Grow into something greater. Be something that the future will remember as pivotal in the creation of a bright tomorrow. Never, Ever, Ever, Ever give in. Mayday! Wake up! Celebrate! Today is…
May 1st. May Day. Beltane.