Friday, May 1, 2009

Happy, Happy First of May!

Happy, Happy first of May.




Outdoor f***ing starts today!

I first heard this verse a number of years ago from my friend, Jeanne. This celebration was a family tradition passed down to her from her mother, aunts, and older cousins. Her complete story can be found here. As I recall, one of her aunts, who wouldn't say shite if her mouth was full of it, had no problemo spouting this happy jingle. Heck, I'm not even sure that all of them even "Did It" but it didn't stop the merriness. Wasn't there a sistah who was a spinstah? Now, I might have hallucinated that part and will have to confirm with a fact check.


But who did they first get it from? No one seems to know. How far back in the family lineage does it extend? No one seems to know. Every year on the first of May, these Irish Catholic women would send May cards to each other. They would call each other and laugh their private little laughs. Their secret day, it seems, was a joyous occasion leaving all the young ones to wonder what was so funny. Jeanne witnessed this secret ritual for years before she grew old enough to be initiated into this sacred rite. She told me. I told everyone I knew. Now I'm telling you this bit of wisdom so it can continue being passed down through the matriarchal line.


May Day is a Celtic holiday marking the waxing of the bright time of the year. The next holiday is the Summer Solstice from which, being the zenith of the light, the year begins to wane. May Day is also know as Beltane. Beltane means "brilliant fires" or "fires of the Bel" after the God Belenus. On Beltane, or May eve, two bonfires were lit from nine different kinds of wood and people and domestic animals passed between the two fires to eliminate disease and misfortune.


With all that is going on with the Swine flu right now, perhaps today would be an excellent day to resurrect this idea. As this was a time before electricity, brands were lit from the bonfires. These, in turn, were used to light fires throughout the village. Long ago, the Pagan festivals at Beltane included dancing around the May Pole, singing, and sexuality. And the party went on "All Night Long." I believe this to be the origin of Lionel Richie's song.


The mass conversion of Pagans, along with their rites and rituals, to Christianity was not always peaceful. The natives were subject to political and military campaigns, laws, demonization of their gods, and threats of torture and death in the name of enforcing Christian belief. After a while, the Church sanctioned the existence of Pagan ideals in the belief that conversion was easier if the rituals were left intact but presented as worshiping the Christian God. It was intended that indigenous people would continue to practice their traditions but the reasons why would be forgotten in time. Seems insidious to me but I guess insidiousness was what the conversion was all about. I mean, how many people are really aware of the many calendars in existence other than the Gregorian Calendar? Few, I think.



Although most early records of May Day are benign and vanilla, they almost always mention 'going-a-maying' or 'bringing in the may.' This referred to going out and gathering greenery to decorate houses and public buildings to welcome the season. Around the mid 13th century, there were derogatory writings about priests playing maying games. Apparently the clergy was not so different then than it is today. But the celebrations were widely accepted, being participated in by religious and political leaders as well as royalty. There is even record of funds being appropriated from public and church coffers to help cover the costs of the celebrations.

Ancient writings tell of young men and maidens, old men and wives wandering around the hills, woods, groves and mountains all through the night. Shucks, the good times probably also included maiden and maiden, merry man and merry man. Making merry, making love, and kissing on the green grass of spring was the order of the day. In fact the term "green gown" was a metaphor for what young girls got from lying on the grass with their lovers.


Amour-wise, it was a busy time of year. Makes me wonder about all the little love bugs that were probably conceived on this day. Let's see, you count back three months. Okay, it's May. So, April... March...February...!!! Holy Green Gown! I WAS born in February. On the first, to be exact. Oh, Momma. Oh, Papa. It all becomes clear now. I was the result of a 'going-a-maying' tryst! Guess I can't blame you...or Rio. And somewhere, I believe I read that in latter years, May 1st also became a day associated with honoring laborers. Again, an epiphany for me. Labor most certainly follows nine months of pregnancy. There is such synchronicity in the world isn't there? I am always amazed!


All kidding aside, love and passion "peak" at this time of year. The chasteness of the young maid has given way to the fiery sexuality of a woman. A woman free to experiment and taste delights, heretofore, untried. To all of my sistahs:

Happy, Happy first of May.

You know what starts today.

Carpe Someone! Carpe Diem!

22 comments:

Dave King said...

I am very drawn to tales of May Day - very goose bump-making some of them - and love the old traditions and their back stories. I greatly enjoyed your post and its gorgeous photographs. Beautifully done.

Don Jacobs said...

Just the title gets a person to read this one today. I now know there is more to May 1st than just displayint the almighty arms as they used to do in Red Square. Anyone remeber those days. My, how things have chnged over the years to where we talk about lying in the grass versus the arms diplay. Love it.

Donsnordicwalking.

Megan said...

I'm down (ha!) but I need a volunteer...

Ronda Laveen said...

Dave: Thanks so much. I also love all of the old stories associated with ancient traditions. This is just one of many connected to May Day.
Happy, Happy first of May to you dear sir!

Don: I don't remember the almighty arms in Red Square. Please come back and enlighten us. I always loved grass. Happy, Happy first of May, my friend! You will make sure to tell Lois about this rite won't you? If you don't, I will! Susan e-mailed me and is, as always, a willing participant.

Megan: Getting you a volunteer is not a problem. On Saturday, May 2 at 4:30 p.m. you will meet someone with whom you will feel inclined to 'go-a-maying.' Come back and give me the scoop. Happy, Happy first of May, beautiful lady!

The Silver Fox said...

Well, I'm certainly up for it...

Or should I re-phrase that?

Ronda Laveen said...

Dear SF: PLEASE!!!! DO NOT REPHRASE! ALL IS AS IT SHOULD BE. Happpy, Happy First of May, Mr. Fox.

The Silver Fox said...

Loved your reply to my earlier comment. Thanks for providing the first solid laugh of the day.

Megan said...

I don't know how I'm going to get through the next six hours....

;)

Ronda Laveen said...

SF: Any time, Mr. Fox. Anytime.

Megan: Wel...it's 5:06 p.m. and I'm waiting for the story.

Reya Mellicker said...

Fantastic description of Beltaine! Oh yeah. In San Francisco we not only danced the maypole, calling in creativity, fertility (of all kinds), sexuality and community, but we also leaped over cauldrons of burning epsom salts and rubbing alcohol (a cool fire with lots of flame). What we believed is that jumping over the fire cleanses relationships, so people jumped with their lovers, kids, even with their dogs. It was lots of fun!

Last year we had a blogger maypole party - it was a blast. We must do it again sometime, with more bloggers, definitely!

YES about the dream thing. My email is reyasdottir@verizon.net. Let's tawk!!

Ronda Laveen said...

Both the San Francisco and the blogger Maypole party sounds wonderful. I love the idea of "leaping of the cauldron" cleanse. I'll be the kids and dogs really got a kick out of it. Was the blogger party on-line? Fun concept.

I must get your fire recipe! HAPPY, HAPPY first of May!

Evening Light Writer said...

I'm late posting a comment to this! One of my favorite scenes about Beltane is in the book "The Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley, it is quite a saucey little scene and a great book. What if...everyday was May Day? Now that's something that I would sign up for..people are crazy for not participating in this..I mean come on, the greeting card companies could make great cards and everything..Happy May Day, thanks for the Green Gown. Great pictures by the way, what lovely goddesses.

Ronda Laveen said...

Oh, Mindy, I loved that book and that scene too. Haven't read it for a while. This would be a good time to pull it out and start. You are quite creative. A line of cards? Great idea. The goddesses are belly dancers who dance with my friend whose name is also Ronda.

Baino said...

I'm with Megan - I mean I'm up for it - not with Megan - but I'd rather do it indoors! I do remember dancing round the 'Maypole' as a child. Not me personally but watching it. Unfortunately, it's a Northern Celebration . .we're approaching winter here so not much to sing and dance about!

Candie Bracci said...

Really cool :)
Carpe Diem!

tony said...

I Never Realised ! God Bless Lionel Richie!

Squirrel said...

Fun post! I always have a happy happy first day of May~ it's my wedding anniversary so it's always fun. And we still do occasionally make love outdoors in good weather.

May is also the time to forget old grievances and reconnect with lost friends. xxxooo

Marianna said...

Hey Ronda! Happy May day to you too (even this late) and I LOVED this post!

Well I tried to open your most recent post from my blog and it said it doesn't exist. Don't know why it does that...got to check it later :)

Take care
xoxo

Ronda Laveen said...

Baino: I thought about the fact that in the southern hemisphere, you would be heading toward winter. But that is part of what these celebrations are about. Not only looking at the current time of year but directly across the year which would be Hallow's Eve for us.

Miss Candie: Hope you had a good time at your wedding.

Tony: And you being a music man and all.

Squirrel: Congrats on your recent anniversary. Ours is this month too on the 15th. You are so right. May is a time to forgive and reconnect.

Marianna: Happy May to you too! Don't know why it shows a phantom post. Sometimes Blogger is goofy. Happy May to you too!

Mrsupole said...

Sorry I am late but Happy May Day to you. I remember at some schools we decorated the pole and all the girls would get to dance around the pole. Then when we got older it stopped. I have not thought about that for many years now.

Thank you for sharing this with us.

God bless.

Ronda Laveen said...

Hi Sherry: I'm seeing you around the blogs more lately. You must be getting your computer figured out. So happy for you. Yes, I wonder why it seems it is only celebrated in grade school?

Holly said...

At the campus of Washington State University they celebrate singing the same jingle only it's Hooray Hooray for the 8th of May. It's true....any old Cougars (that's their mascot---really)out there?!