You may have heard that it’s May 1st…traditionally “May Day” or Beltane, depending your region and religious background. It’s not celebrated much in the United States, but when I lived in Germany during the early 90s, there were still many festivals to enjoy.
Maybe because Europe is more north than the USA, maybe it is that we are more separated from the growing of food and livestock in the many major cities that we live in. In the “States”, we are generally less aware of how our food is produced or the link between spring and the growing cycle. Spring is the time when the fields are beginning to show the first signs of crops peeking through the soil. It is also the time of year that in more agriculturally-aware culture that the breeding of livestock is most prevalent.
Humans in our technologically-advanced society get our food mostly from grocery stores in cans or plastic wrapped containers, far removed from any sign of growth or harvest. It would be safe to say that city kids (and a lot of their parents) have never been to a farm, having little in the way of understanding what food production looks like or even comes from. That is a pity. When we lose sight of where food really comes from, we forget that it is something that we should be grateful for in more than filling our stomachs.
In the photo of a German May Pole, they have specifically calls to mind this heritage. The old teach the young about the strength of unity and the need to have customs. In our overly mechanized and increasingly sterile world, we have lost touch with the land, with the fertility engendered with springtime rituals of old, and ultimately our connection with nature itself. Beltane brings these all-but-forgotten traditions back into our memory, even if it’s only through arm’s length photos of what many would consider, at best, quaint. At worse, pagan with all that word’s negative connotations.
We don’t need to change our religion, or even go back to living on the farm, to celebrate and recognize all this season celebrates as May Day. Luckily, farmer’s markets and larger selection of organic foods at our grocery stores have returned a little piece of nature back to our dinner table. Just for a moment, dance and sing around the Tree of Life, even if it’s only a photo or video that you have to gaze upon. Take time to celebrate this wondrous time of the return of life and the fertility that supports it.
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