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Our Lady of the Woods will celebrate the traditional holiday of Beltane with a ritual, feast and Maypole dance on Sunday in North Mesa Park. The Beltane Sabbat marks the beginning of the summer for the Celts.
For many English towns, the Maypole remained stationed at the town center, becoming a gathering place for the whole season, which was a sort of ongoing block party.
Our Lady of the Woods will recreate some of those good times at their celebration. The potluck feast that follows will give way to songs, dance and stories.
There are two traditional ways to celebrate the beginning of the growing season in Celtic culture. The first involves gathering flowers and garlands of fresh leaves and erecting a Maypole as the center of the celebration, dancing and engaging in outdoor sports for the first time of the season.
The making and giving of May baskets, still done today, is related to this practice.
There are accounts of the Tudors, including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, going a-Maying, as it was called, in the country houses of their court. Elizabeth I was said to be very fond of the practice.
Humbler folks twined the Maypole in the village with ribbons and fresh flowers, sang traditional songs and danced in intertwining circles around the Maypole to celebrate the beginning of the growing season.
In Ireland and Scotland, Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season when livestock were driven to the summer pastures and grazing lands.
Indeed, Beltane is the Irish word for the month of May. Mayday was celebrated with bonfires in the hills and pastures.
The village cattle were driven between two fires to purify them and bring luck. Recently, when the cattle herds of Ireland suffered from mad cow disease, this custom was revived to protect the herds. Records of the traditional holiday Beltane go as far back as 900 C.E. in Ireland.
Dress festively and bring drums and musical instruments. For more information, visit www.ladywoods.org or call 5050-672-1278.