As luck would have it, Cinnia’s vacation happened to fall during Beltane or May Day. She got word of a traditional Beltane festival being held in County Limerick. So she decided to head that way to participate.
Beltane is the dawning of the summer season. It is celebrated to purify the land and livestock for a bountiful harvest. Boughs of Hawthorne and primrose are gathered and placed over the threshold of homes to ward off evil spirits. Thorn bushes (May Bushes) are erected and decorated with colorful paper, candles, and painted eggshells.
Cinnia arrived at the town center in time to help with the decorations. She gathered up the boughs of yellow flowers and put together garlands that were placed over the door to the town hall. She then helped with cutting ornaments of colored papers to place on the May Bush. The atmosphere was festive and children were helping out with the decorations as well.
As the sun set, more people arrived, many dressed in period clothing. One of the town officials extinguished the hearth fire in the town hall and swept out the ashes. Two large bonfires were lit on either end of the town square. As the fires got started, musicians began playing the uilleann pipes. Town folk, young and old, began to dance to the mellow, sweet tones of the pipes. Cinnia was urged to join them and happily agreed. Some people even jumped the fires for luck in the coming season. A small herd of cattle walked between the fires to be bathed in the smoke purifying them to ensure they would produce well for the summer. Food was cooked by the fire and shared among the people gathered as they sang and danced to the pipes. A torch lit from the bonfires was used to relight the hearth fire in the town hall. The fires were left to burnout and then the ashes were distributed for scattering on farm plots.
Upbeat, lively, and entertaining, it was a charming way to usher in the summer season.
Once upon a time...
All content on this website is © Darcy Michele Scelsi