April is ending, May beginning, and we reach the opposite spoke of the year that we were at last fall when October was ending. We step lightly into summer with the start of May, not by the almanac, but by traditional reckoning of time.
The Celts called this time Beltane (pronounced bowl-tan-a). Nowadays, this night is known best as May Eve and Walpurgis Night, named for St. Walpurga. In Germany, it is Walpurgisnacht, famed for being a night when witches gather. Gathering, however, is not in the cards this Walpurgis Night for anyone, save perhaps the occasional mob protesting social distancing and the temporary closure of hair salons. They can do what they want (and they will, with little regard for others), but for the more logical amongst you, may I suggest marking this night of transition simply, peacefully, at home, and with great respect for each other and the planet. It is a night of higher vibration, after all, for with it, we reach the halfway point between spring equinox and summer solstice. So why not distill the essence of the traditional celebrations and welcome them into our homes?
So. Here are my suggestions: First, it is traditionally a night to spend outdoors. May I suggest the backyard? Bonfires are traditional, so maybe light a candle, taking the best care with it, of course. In Scandinavia sparkling wine is traditional, as is gravlax, a smoked cured salmon. We happen to have the sparkling wine and the smoked salmon on hand. Perhaps your pantry holds some, as well. And if not, well, hopefully there is something celebratory to be found there.
These are days, for sure, where we do the best we can. There is nothing at all wrong with that. Traditions are wonderful, but what counts most is what’s in the heart. If social distancing means you are celebrating alone tonight, know that we are celebrating with you. Stare up at the moon, stare up at the stars; we’re looking at them, too.
Image: The Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh. Oil on canvas, 1889. [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons.