It’s April 1st, and that means that Beltane is only a month away – as one of the biggest holidays in the Pagan community, I know a lot of us are already starting to prepare! I have such fond memories of May Day growing up, and the traditions associated with it have always lent their charm to my conception of Beltane. We would craft little baskets, usually filled with candy or other little treats, and leave them on neighbors’ doorsteps early in the morning. At school we usually did the same, and often would take a trip to the local assisted living facility to leave our little styrofoam cups full of easter-grass and chocolates for those without families visiting them.
The idea of May Day as a community holiday, one in which we honor our connection with our neighbors and the people around us who may have lost some of their connections, resonates strongly within me. As a Heathen, I’ve begun connecting more and more what were once very personal celebrations to my community at large; and I think in many ways this has helped my children to a greater understanding of what my Pagan holidays mean.
We begin on Beltane Eve by crafting our May Day baskets. Throughout the year we collect tissue paper from birthday parties, at Christmas and Yule celebrations, and any time gifts are given (yes, I’m the weird parent asking if I can rescue the wrapping from the garbage!). I get them all out on the last day of April, and the kids and I make tissue paper flowers to set in decorated paper towel or toilet paper rolls; the effect is that of a small and very eclectic bouquet. A few are taken to school for friends, a few given out to family, but most of the ones we make are for the doorsteps of our neighbors.
We’ve lived here a few years now and I’ve never had anyone comment to me about the pretty flowers left on their porch – but I like to think it brightens up their day at least a little. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a wonderful way to teach my children about the importance of community, and how we should value the people all around us. Each person is a vital part of the world around us, and they all have something to contribute – and it is important for us as members of the community to honor their contribution. Besides, it never hurts to put a smile on someone’s face.