Traditional May Day celebrations in Europe


(originally published to Helium writing site, now gone)

May 1 is known as May Day. It has its origins in ancient pagan festivals and in crop and pastoral cycles in many societies across Europe. May 1 is the start of the warmer six months of the year in the northern hemisphere after often bitterly cold winters and this was cause for celebration with bonfires and dancing. The Druids celebrated May 1 as the day of their Bealtaine, or Beltane, festival or feast. At the same time, Germany and surrounding areas celebrated Walpurgis Night, a similar ceremony.

The religious aspect of May Day continued after the Romans arrived in Britain. They worshipped their goddess of flowers, Flora, on this day. This ceremony had been conducted in romanized Europe for some time. In Britain, the old customs of Bealtaine became part of the Floralia festival. During the Puritan era in the 16th…

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