Sunday, 1 May 2016

The May Morning Dew

Happy May Day to you and yours.

Today, Bealtaine, is one of the ancient Celtic Fire Festivals, - I've written more about it here and about the tradition of MayFlowers where I come from.

This is positively my favourite time of year to be at home and in this old garden which was planted back in the 1930s and still has traces of violets and cowslip through the lawn as well as these lovely buttercups - although they look more like Marsh Marigolds to me.

The large golden flowers of Marsh-marigold certainly look like the cups of kings and the Latin name Caltha is derived from the Greek for 'goblet'. Hence, Marsh-marigold is also commonly known as 'Kingcup'. It is a widespread plant of ponds, marshes, damp meadows, ditches and wet woodland and, before the draining of the landscape for agriculture began, was a conspicuous spring flower. Source : 
 There are so many traditions around May Day across these islands and indeed across a lot of Europe - the 1st of May is Walpurgisnacht in Germany and is an important witches' festival.

To the Celts, the winter sun reigned from sunset on 31st October (Samhain) to sunrise on 1st May (Bealtaine) and on that day, his daughter, the Cailleach Bhéara (The Old Woman of Beara) turned to stone.   Then the summer sun reigned for the other six months of the year.

In Irish traditional music there are many many songs about May - particularly in the first line of songs - One morning in May ... or As I Roved out one May Morning.  But my absolute favourite is a quite mournful piece sung by the wonderful Dolores Keane who comes from the West of Ireland.

Happy May Day and may summer bring you blue skies and big smiles.  Do you observe any MayDay traditions where you live?  


  1. What a rich culture you have in song and music. And pretty May flowers too.

  2. Hi Fil - I too love this time of year ... it's the best - and your choice of Dolores' singing .. it is mournful, but so beautiful ..

    Enjoy the Spring and early summer .. cheers Hilary

  3. I love love love celtic tales and history. I told you I have celtic roots (a short story, but not pertinent now :) and I simply ALWAYS loved celtic traditions... so as I read your amazing post, about Bealtaine and kingscups, and listen to this phenomenal song... I feel nostalgic, in a way I can't explain - like a "lost path"? I don't know, but it's like I have been part of it... studies say that the DNA remembers all... I don't know, but it's an incredible sensation :) Too much written, probably nonsense, but I just wanted to say that I love learning from what you write! Dolores Kean (an important name in my family, by the way) is now one of my favorite singers! Thank you so much for that!

  4. I hadn't even registered that this was Walpurgis Nacht of May Day. Too many other things taking up my attention I guess.


Do drop me a line ... I love to read your comments :)