Like Candlemas, Lammas, and Halloween, May Day is one of the corner days which fall between solar festivals of the year (the equinoxes and soltices). The ancient Celts called this holiday Beltane and began celebrating at sunset on April 30th. It marked the beginning of summer, time to move with the flocks up to greener pastures.
Like Halloween, this is a night where witches, faeries, and ghosts wander freely. The veil between the worlds is thin. Many ancient tales tell of faerie sightings on May 1st.
When my children were young, we celebrated May Day by making fresh flower bouquets from the blooming wild flowers and herbs in my garden and whatever we could scrounge up in the woods. Often the lilac bushes were in bloom and we added sprigs of those lovely fragrant posies as well. We made one for each of our nearby relatives and our favorite neighbors....20 pots or more we tied up in shimmering ribbons.
Then, following May Day ritual lore, we would deliver the flowers to the doorsteps of our family and friends, ring their bell, and run away giggling-thrilled with our secret gift.
The kids are all grown and gone from home now...and we haven't celebrated May Day this way in many years. But, those sweet, magical memories fill me up and make me smile every May1st.