'They say a person needs just three things to be really happy in this world, someone to love, something to do and something to hope for.' ~Tom Bodett
Today is 'La Bealtaine' which translates as May Day and it is also the feast of St Joseph the worker. It is a Bank Holiday weekend and a time to rest and unwind for most people. La Bealtaine is a day that goes way back many generations in Irish culture and history. Our ancient and recent farming ancestors relied on significant calendar events to give them reassurance and to remind them when to sow and when to reap. They were very in touch with the rhythms of the seasons, the cycles of the moon and the flow of the seasons.
Our modern world has lost touch with much of these natural connections to earth and what connects us to everything. Bealtaine is one of the four major Irish Celtic annual festivals along with Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasa. It signifies the return of light and is widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, while May Day celebrations occur throughout Europe.
La Bealtaine was celebrated to mark the beginning of summer. It was a day when the herds of livestock were driven out to summer pastures. The lighting of bonfires on hills and mountains was a part of the tradition. Many farmers still have the lovley tradition of sprinkling holy water on their cattle and farms. At the heart of Bealtaine is a reminder of growth, abundance and life flourishing at this time of year. Summer is a season of energy and fulfillment. The darkness of winter is far behind, the promise of spring has delivered and the coming months are about making the most of everything connected with life.
This week just gone all our trees have come into leaf with a great energy and I have already spotted swallows flying around. La Bealtaine is a day of hope and a reminder that summer is here. It is a day of great blessing and we ask God to help us make the most of everything connected with life this summer. Perhaps this weekend, we could put our phone or laptop away and get out for a walk in nature or somewhere outdoors. When we connect with nature it has a calming and healing effect and it is a place where we can also feel close to God too.