Happy Beltane and May Day!
Beltane/May Day is the cross-quarter day that falls half-way between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. In the mid-Atlantic region of the US, where I grew up and have lived most of my adult life, Beltane is all about welcoming Spring -- Who is generally bursting forth with great enthusiasm just about now. ("Boing!")
I grew up with May Day both as a workers' holiday and as a welcome-spring holiday. Later, at my (Quaker) college, we celebrated May Day by cancelling classes, rising before dawn to serenade the college president and to present seniors with baskets of flowers, breakfasting on strawberries and cream (yum!), dancing May poles, running hoop races, presenting plays and concerts, cavorting, running amok in a generally genteel fashion, and more. (It was great fun.)
Later, for many years, my actively Christian surrogate parents -- at their insistence -- hosted the big Roses, Too! Coven semi-open Beltane celebration at their house out in the country. ("But you have to have it here!") This became an all-day-and-into-the-evening event: May pole ritual (what do you weave into your life this year?), potluck (theme: sensual food), then singing and telling stories long into the evening.
Some things that stand out in my mind over time: chocolate-covered strawberries; tea from home-grown herbs; sprinkling each other with sprigs of my parents' lilacs dipped in water to bless each others' creativity; my young nephews and other young F/friends toddling unsteadily one year, then running around and around (and around!) the circle the next; the year K. was old enough to have her own ribbon for the first time; fresh home-made challah; fingers sticky with berries; weather hot, weather cold, weather everywhere in between. (And the fact that while May weather in southeastern Pennsylvania is chancy at best, and it rained on a good many Beltanes, it never once rained during the May Pole.) Community. Lots of lovely music.
My Beloved Wife is a former union organizer. The year we were married, we looked for a nice Saturday in April or May, and discovered May 1st was a Saturday. We couldn't resist.
What does Beltane mean to me?
Hard to put into words. In many traditions, Beltane is a fertility holiday. And so I suppose it is: the fertility of the Earth and Her creatures; the fertility of our creativity. The insistence of life.
The joy of being able to see, touch, taste, smell, and hear the Goddess. Of being able to experience the That-Which-Is-Sacred with all my senses.
What does Beltane, does May Day, mean to you?