April

Taurus is the second sign of the Zodiac. The sun enters Taurus at slightly different times each year, usually around Apr 21, sometimes the day before or the day after.

  • Symbol: The Bull
  • Element: Earth
  • Gemstone: Emerald
  • Keyword: I Have

Taureans are practical, patient, and determined. As they are naturally cautious, they think before acting. Consequently, they are often accused of being stubborn or obstinate. Taureans love comfort, luxury, and beauty. They insist on the best of everything. They are generous, but like to keep a “nest egg” back just in case it is needed. They are loyal and devoted to their friends.

From 365 Goddess, we have this for today:
  • Themes: Work; Patience; Strength; Courage
  • Symbol: Bull
  • Presiding Goddess: Tauropolos


About Tauropolos:

No goddess could better represent this date other than Tauropolos, the Cretan bull goddess whose name literally means “Bull Lady” (and that’s no bull). Teaching us the virtues of diligence and the rewards of hard work, Tauropolos also has a strong connection to the fields (the plow) and the hearth, where food from the fields is prepared.

To Do Today:

The Cretans were well known for having bull-leaping festivals that honored this goddess, probably as a fertility rite and test of one’s bravery. Oddly enough, this is how we come by the saying “seize the bull by the horns!” So, if there’s an area of your life in which you want to really seize the day, try this simple symbolic spell:

Find any image of a bull (in a magazine, carved out of stone, or in some other form). Put it on the floor, and put a symbol of your aspiration on the side of the image across from you. Say:

Tauropolos, prepare the fields for success;
help me now to do my best.
Leap over the image and claim victory!

If you can’t find bull images, any harvested item may represent Tauropolos instead. If you choose this option, be sure to consume the food later. This way you can internalize this goddess’s tenacity, persistence, and fortitude, then apply them toward successfully achieving your goals.

More About The Sun in Taurus:

The Sun is in Taurus from approximately April 20 to May 20, depending on the year.

  • Ruler: Venus
  • Season: Spring
  • Modality: Fixed
  • Metal: Copper
  • Color: Green
  • Flowers: Rose,
  • Anatomy: Neck, throat
  • Attributes: persevering, down-to-earth, stable, stubborn, possessive, prosperous, dependable, physical, sensual

There is something very solid about Taurus natives, no matter what the rest of their charts say about them. Though they are dependable most of the time, this generally shows itself more in habit than in outright helpfulness.

Taurus natives are sensual folk–and this includes sex, but extends to pleasures in all areas: they delight in the sensual pleasures of food, a comfortable blanket, a richly colored aquarium to look at, the smell of flowers or spring rain, pleasing melodies coming from their stereos, and so forth. Some might even say they live through their senses more than most.

When Taurus natives work, they work hard. They do it with a steadiness that may rarely be considered quick–rather it’s a dependable, plodding, and steady effort that has its payoffs. Security is immensely important to Taurus–some of them actively seek wealth, while others are content to be “comfortable”. The Taurus definition of “comfortable” may not be exactly the same as the rest of the signs, but comfort is definitely a driving force.

Although hard-working, their fixed and comfort-loving nature sometimes makes them appear lazy. This is only because they separate work and leisure so well. When they work, they work hard, and when they play, they don’t really “play” as such…they relax. A Solar Taurus who has kicked his or her feet up is rooted there–you’d be hard-pressed to get them to move. On a mental level, you’ll likely have the same problem. Taureans stick with things and ideas, and therein lies one of the reasons why they are known for their stubbornness. Taurus is a fixed sign, and they have a fair measure of tradition and steadiness in their make-up that keeps them rooted.

The possessiveness associated with Taurus shows up in all areas of life in some way. Taurus likes to own things (and sometimes people). A nice home, a piece of land (this can be modest), a paid-off car, that aquarium mentioned earlier, a couple pets, maybe a solid business…In love and relationship, there is an earthy kind of possessiveness that may be considered jealousy by some, but there is actually quite a difference between being possessive and being jealous. Taurus natives are rarely jealous and petty. They do, however, think of the people they love as theirs–it adds to their sense of security.

Source: Cafe Astrology

April 6 is National Tartan Day. National Tartan Day honors all the Scottish heritage that flows through this nation. From its earliest beginnings, Americans with Scottish ancestry endeavored for that freedom as much as any American. It was in their blood.

It was 400 years before they had declared –

“For we fight not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, but for freedom alone which no good man give sup except for his life.” – from the Declaration of Arbroath

It might be surprising to know that of the 13 governors in the newly established United States; nine were Scots. There are 56 signatures on the Declaration of Independence. Some scholars suggest nearly a third of those signers were of Scottish descent.

Not only can we point to the country’s founding fathers, but of the 43 Presidents who have taken office, 33 have been of Scottish descent.

Those with Tartan blood were and are independent and resourceful. They are prolific inventors and writers. They are talented musicians and artist, experienced leaders and scholars. In the United States today, over 11 million Americans claim Scottish or Scotch-Irish roots. That makes them the 8th largest ethnic group in the United States.

What is a Tartan?

A tartan, is a cloth bearing a pattern of overlayed checks in several bright colors. A plaid, contrary to popular usage, “is actually a blanketlike piece of tartan worn over the shoulder.”

Tartan is Scotland’s famous patterned woven textile. It’s the most recognizable pattern associated with Scotland. Tartan consists of “interwoven vertical and horizontal lines, known as a sett,” according to Scotland’s National Tourism Organisation. The pattern is seen on shirts, kilts and other clothing.

How To Observe Tartan Day:

  • Check local civic websites for parades, ceremonies and events.
  • Wear your tartan
  • Use #NationalTartanDay to post on social media.
  • Create a tartan that is unique to your ‘family clan’.
  • Attend a Tartan Day parade. One of the largest Tartan Day parades is held in New York City.
  • Learn Highland dancing which originated in the Scottish Highlands.
  • Eat traditional Scottish foods including Haggis, Scottish porridge, Scotch broth and shortbread cookies.
  • Play golf. Golf originated in Scotland during the 15th century

So you want to wear a traditional kilt on National Tartan day and you aren’t sure how to get it on properly? Here’s a video showing how to correctly fold and wear the Scottish plaid, a step by step guide to becoming a real highlander!

National Tartan Day Facts & Quotes 

  • Rachel Walker holds the Guinness World Record for wearing the most Tartans within 60 seconds. Walker managed to put on 4 kilts within 60 seconds.
  • According Martin Martin, author of A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, a tartan served to distinguish residents of different regions. Eventually, the tartan was used as a symbol of belonging to a specific clan.
  • The major languages spoken in Scotland are English, Scottish Gaelic and Scots.

Photos for National Tartan Day:

Hans Wild’s photos from the 1940’s capture the intricate detail of Scottish culture down to the shearing of a wooly sheep and the fingering on a traditional bagpipe melody. Pride, in both national heritage and familial lineage, courses through the images. It was, after all, a matter of serious — and legal — business, as the magazine laid out clearly: “A person who wears the crest of a clan of which he is not a member may be fined £8 6s 8d.”

And just for good measure, here’s one last pic:

Sources:

Quan Yin’s Birthday is commonly celebrated on the 19th day of the 2nd lunar month, which in 2018 falls on April 4. The birthday of the Goddess of Mercy is a celebration of the Bodhisattva (“Buddha-to-be”) of infinite compassion and mercy.

Alternate spellings include:

  • Kwan Yin
  • Kuanyin
  • Kuan Yin
  • Guanyin

One of the deities most frequently seen on altars in China’s temples is Quan Yin. Quan Yin, the Buddhist Heart of Mercy and Queen of Compassion, is no forgotten deity but among the most popular on Earth today. The most beloved of Buddhist deities, he or she is accepted not only by Buddhists but also by Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans.

On her birthday, young men and women come together and burn joss sticks and worship the goddess either in temple halls or court areas. Some devotees also offer oil for the lamp of Guan Yin. This is an offering meant for peace and health.

Common dishes served on this day include porridge, fried koey teow and noodles, which stays true to authentic Chinese cuisine. All dishes served at the festivities are typically vegetarian as well.

Quan Yin is the Bodhisattva of Compassion. In Sanskrit, her name is Padma-pâni, or “Born of the Lotus.” Quan Yin, alone among Buddhist gods, is loved rather than feared, and is the model of Chinese beauty.

She is a tireless, ever-vigilant protective guardian. Although her appearance is milder than that of a warrior spirit, she is no less powerful. Kwan Yin achieved nirvana but refused to leave Earth as long as any person still suffers. Kwan Yin vows that if you call her name in times of anguish, she will come and assist you.

There are three different dates celebrated as her birthdays; when she was born, when she achieved enlightenment and when she became a nun.

Guan Yin is known as Bodhisattva of the infinite concern in East Asian Buddhism. It is believed that Guan Yin can take different forms to help others. Therefore, she can be represented by either having a female or male body.

Goddess of Mercy was first described in the Lotus Sutra in the 5th century by Gautama Buddha. She was originally born a xian (holy spirit) reincarnated as a Human to help mankind.

It was told that she had the power to assume whatever form, whenever necessary to alleviate suffering, and to convey sympathy and compassion. She became a saint after her death, and was given the name of Guan Yin by her worshipers. It is said that anyone praying to the Goddess of Mercy would be cured of all illnesses.

This deity has been depicted as both masculine and feminine and sometimes as transcending sexual identity (with soft body contours but also a moustache).

The Lotus Sutra, or scripture, says Avalokitesvara (the deity’s Sanskrit name, meaning “the lord who looks in every direction”) is able to assume whatever form is needed to relieve suffering. He/she exemplifies the compassion of the enlightened and is known in Tibet as Spyan-ras gzigs, “with a pitying look.”

Kuan Yin, the Chinese name, means “regarder of sounds,” or “of the voices of the suffering.” The Japanese word for the deity is pronounced “Kannon.”

Women especially celebrate Kuan Yin. In Malaysia, hundreds of devotees bearing joss sticks, fresh fruit, flowers, and sweet cakes gather twice a year at temples dedicated to Kuan Yin in Kuala Lumpur and Penang to pray for her benevolence. (She is feminine there and in China, Korea, and Japan.)

At the old temple at Jalan Pitt, Penang, puppet shows are staged in celebration of her. In Hong Kong, Kuan Yin is honored on the 19th day of the sixth lunar month at Pak Sha Wan in Hebe Haven.

Information collected from various sources.

Hana-Matsuri refers to the memorial service performed at temples throughout Japan to celebrate the birth of Buddha on April 8th. It is formally called Kanbutsue. On this day, small buildings decorated with flowers are made at temples and a tanjobustu (baby Buddha figurine) is placed inside. This figurine is sprinkled by worshipers using a ladle with ama-cha, which is a beverage made by soaking tea leaves in hot water Some people take this ama-cha home and drink it as holy water.

Shakyamuni Buddha was born approximately 2,500 years ago under the Bodhi tree in the garden of Lumbini (Nepal) to the Sakya King Suddhodhana and his queen, Maya. When the child was born, flowers bloomed, birds sang and sweet rain fell from the heavens above.

The infant Buddha took seven steps in the four directions and with one hand raised to the sky and the other pointing downwards proclaimed,

“Whether above the sky or below the sky, I am most noble and high. I am here to bring peace to all the sentient beings in the world who are suffering.”

The event is commemorated in Buddhist temples across Japan as the birth anniversary of the Shakyamuni Buddha. The day is celebrated with parades featuring images of the baby Buddha, the white elephant seen by his mother in her dream just before his birth and cherry blossoms carried by children dressed in traditional Japanese clothes.

Coincidentally, the sakura (cherry) trees bloom at this very time, and so are given as offerings to adorn the nativity celebrations and ‘amacha’, sweet tea symbolic of the heavenly rain is poured over the baby Buddha by children.

Source: Journey Mart

The spirit of Poland’s Dyngus is captured in this description from the Poznan region during 1800s:

Poland’s Dyngus, or Smigus, Day is said to hark back to the baptism of the founder of Polish Christianity, Prince Mieszko I (c. 935 – 992), and his entire court, on Easter Monday, 966. Dyngus is an ancient celebration which is still observed both in country villages and the big cities, with singing, pranks, visiting friends’ houses, and the custom of dousing.

The custom of pouring water is an ancient spring rite of cleansing, purification, and fertility – at this time of year there are drenching customs enacted in Sri Lanka and Thailand during their respective New Year celebrations. In a Spring custom of pagan (pre-Christian Slavic) times, the Poles ‘confronted’ (dingen) Nature with their pouring of water and switching with pussy willows to purify themselves for the year ahead. The alternative name for the day comes from smiganie, meaning ‘switching’.

(Boys, don’t do this at home.) On Easter Monday, at around 5 am, the men creep through a neighbour’s window or chimney, often with the collusion of the male family head, into the rooms where the sleeping womenfolk are abruptly awakened by being doused with water. The girls, naturally enough, reciprocate in kind. In cities, where people are refined and perhaps girls more aware, this custom tends to be practised by the use of a sprinkle of water or cologne.

In the first recorded Polish writing on Dyngus Day; a medieval Polish historian wrote of what he termed the Oblewania.

Barely had the day dawned on Easter Monday when I woke the boys and gathered some water to start throwing it on the girls. Up with the Piwezyny! (eiderdown)! There was screaming, shouting, and confusion. The girls are shrieking and hollering, but in their hearts they are glad because they know that she who isn’t gotten wet will not be married that year. And the more they are annoyed, the more we dump water on them calling, Dyngus – Smigus! Then we had to change our clothes because there wasn’t a dry thread on the girls and we boys were not better off.

Source Unknown

Earth Day is a name used for two similar global observances. While some people celebrate Earth Day around the time of the Vernal Equinox, others observe the occasion on April 22 each year.

Earth Day aims to inspire awareness of and appreciation for earth’s environment. Typical ways of observing Earth Day include planting trees, picking up roadside trash, conducting various programs for recycling and conservation, using recyclable containers for snacks and lunches. Some people are encouraged to sign petitions to governments, calling for stronger or immediate action to stop global warming and to reverse environmental destruction. Television stations frequently air programs dealing with environmental issues.

Symbols used by people to describe Earth Day include: an image or drawing of planet earth; a tree, a flower or leaves depicting growth; or the recycling symbol. Colors used for Earth Day include natural colors such as green, brown or blue.

Note:

This observance arose from an interest in gathering national support for environmental issues. In 1970, San Francisco activist John McConnell and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson separately asked Americans to join in a grassroots demonstration. McConnell chose the spring equinox (March 21, 1970) and Nelson chose April 22. Millions of people participated, and today Earth Day continues to be widely celebrated with events on both dates.

The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival was held on the Full Moon in April. There was a procession of decorated boats up and down the rivers and lakes in the moonlight. Everyone participated, for they believed that this pleased the dragons who brought life-energies to the community. They would throw flowers into the water to carry their blessings and wishes.

To the Chinese, dragons were not loathsome creatures to be avoided, but rather wise, powerful beings who could help in many ways. Dragon-lovers of today realize the same thing and court their friendship. Dragons are powerful allies. This is an excellent time to bless boats, whether or not they are decorated as dragons. The ancients said that each boat had a spirit built into it, and if that spirit were dissatisfied or angry, the boat would not handle properly in the wind and waves.

If you have a boat, large or small, consider using a boat blessing ritual to improve its safety and performance. If you don’t have a boat, this ritual can also be used to bless cars, bikes, motorcycles, or whatever you use for transportation.

Note:

Dates for this festival vary widely from year to year, and from region to region. Most generally the dates given are either in May or in June.

From: Moon Magick

This is the holiest day of all Buddhist days marking the birth, enlightenment and nirvana of the Lord Buddha. It is celebrated on many different dates, and in many different ways all over the world.

In many east Asian countries Buddha’s Birth is celebrated on the 8th day of the 4th month in the Chinese lunar calendar (in Japan since 1873 on April 8 of the Gregorian calendar), and the day is an official holiday in Hong Kong, Macau, and South Korea. The date falls from the end of April to the end of May in the Gregorian calendar.

In Nepal:

In Nepal, Buddha’s birthday is celebrated on the full moon day of May. In 2017, the holiday occurs on May 10. The festival is known by various names, Buddha Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, Vaishakh Purnima and Vesak. Purnima means full moon day in Sanskrit. Among the Newars of Nepal, the festival is known as Swanya Punhi, the full moon day of flowers. The day marks not just the birth of Shakyamuni Gautam Buddha but also the day of his Enlightenment and Mahaparinirvana. But as a gentle effect of the West, the event of the birth is given paramount importance.

The event is celebrated by gentle and serene fervor, keeping in mind the very nature of Buddhism. People, especially women, go to common Viharas to observe a rather longer-than-usual, full-length Buddhist sutra, as something like a service. The usual dress is pure white. Kheer, a sweet rice porridge is commonly served to recall the story of Sujata, a maiden who, in Gautama Buddha’s life, offered the Buddha a bowl of milk porridge after he had given up the path of asceticism following six years of extreme austerity. This event was one major link in his enlightenment.

It is said that the Buddha originally followed the way of asceticism to attain enlightenment sooner, as was thought by many at that time. He sat for a prolonged time with inadequate food and water, which caused his body to shrivel so as to be indistinguishable from the bark of the tree that he was sitting under. Seeing the weak Siddhartha Gautama, a girl named Sujata placed a bowl of milk in front of him as an offering. Realising that without food one can do nothing, the Buddha refrained from harming his own body.

In India:

The birth of Buddha or Tathagata is celebrated in India, especially in Sikkim, Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bodh Gaya, various parts of North Bengal such as Kalimpong, Darjeeling, and Kurseong, and Maharashtra (where 6% of total population are Buddhists) and other parts of India as per Indian calendar. The day is celebrated much the same way as in Nepal.

In Thailand:

Visakha Puja, the year’s greatest religious holiday, which commemorates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death, comes during seeding and plowing. This is the holiest day of all Buddhist days marking the birth, enlightenment and nirvana of the Lord Buddha.

Buddhists will make merits and attend sermons at the temples (Wat). In the evening, Buddhist monks lead the laity in a magnificent candle-light triple circumambulation of Buddhist chapels throughout the country.Village elders attend temple celebrations and sermons during the day.

Those who have been working all day in the fields return at dusk to join the lovely candle or torchlit procession that circumambulates the temple chapel three times. Enacted in every village, town and city Wat (temple), each person carries flowers, three glowing incense sticks and a lighted candle in silent homage to the Buddha, his teaching and his disciples.

In Japan:

In Japan, Buddha’s birth is also celebrated according to the Buddhist calendar but is not a national holiday. On this day, all temples hold Kanbutsu-e or Hana-matsuri, meaning ‘Flower Festival’. The first event was held at Asuka-dera in 606.

Japanese people pour ama-cha (a beverage prepared from a variety of hydrangea) on small Buddha statues decorated with flowers, as if bathing a newborn baby.

In Korea:

Lotus Lantern Festival celebrating Buddha’s Birthday, is celebrated in South Korea according to the Lunisolar calendar. This day is called Seokga tansinil, meaning “Buddha’s birthday” or Bucheonim osin nal meaning “the day when the Buddha came.”.

Lotus lanterns cover the entire temple throughout the month which are often flooded down the street. On the day of Buddha’s birth, many temples provide free meals and tea to all visitors. The breakfast and lunch provided are often sanchae bibimbap.

In Sri Lanka:

This is one of the major festivals in Sri Lanka. It is celebrated on the first full moon day of the month of May. People engage in religious observances and decorate houses and streets with candles and specially made paper lanterns. some stores give out free meals for people.

In specific places, there are buildings made out of light bulbs but from a distance it represents pictures from the Buddha’s life. They are called vesak thorun (Pandals). People sing songs called “bhakthi geetha”.

United States:

Among the many practicing Buddhists in the United States, Buddha’s Birthday (Hana-Matsuri) is widely celebrated on April 8 of the standard Gregorian calendar.

In 1968 on April 8 in the California Bay Area, the first circumambulation of Mt. Tamalpais to celebrate Buddha’s Birthday was conducted. The director of the Esalen at Stanford program designed a leaflet and had it distributed to all universities in the Bay Area. Some brought sleeping bags and slept overnight in Muir Woods to enable an early start up the Dipsea Trail.

For the several hundred people involved, it was an unforgettable day clear, sunny, calm, and somewhat warm. Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, and Philip Whalen were there. Taught by Gary and Allen, we chanted a different mantra at every station of the clockwise circumambulation. We all stopped for lunch on a sunny hillside. Allen brought miso for lunch, and he passed it around for others to enjoy.

Starting in 1969 on April 8 (and into the 1970s) at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, Hana-Matsuri was celebrated each spring. Dressed in formal black robes, the roughly 70 monks and students formed a formal procession to the Horse Pasture with the leader periodically ringing a small, clear bell.

A temporary stone altar was built under a huge oak tree in a gorgeous field of green grass and abundant wildflowers; a small statue of a baby Buddha was placed upon it in a metal basin. Then each person would in turn approach the altar, ladle one thin-lipped bamboo dipperful of sweet green tea over the statue, bow, and walk to one side. How haunting and mysterious – the juxtaposition of formality, ritual and wild Nature.

Other countries:

Some places have a public holiday one week later, on the fifteenth day of the fourth month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, to coincide with the full moon. The names for this festival vary with each country, for instance Visakha Puja in Thailand or Lễ Phật đản in Vietnam. In some countries it is a public holiday, in others it is not.

In Germany, Walpurgisnacht (or Hexennacht, meaning witches´ night), the night from April 30 (May eve), is the night when allegedly the witches hold a large celebration on the Blocksberg (the highest of the Harz Mountains of north central Germany)  hold revels with their Gods, and await the arrival of Spring.

In some parts of northern coastal regions of Germany, the custom of lighting huge Beltane fires is still kept alive, to celebrate the coming of May, while most parts of Germany have a derived christianized custom around Easter called “Easter fires”.

In rural parts of southern Germany it is part of popular youth culture to go out on Walburgisnacht to play pranks on other people, like messing up someone’s garden, hiding stuff or spraying messages on other people’s property. Sometimes these pranks go too far and may result in serious willful damage to property or bodily injury.

Walpurgis (sw: Valborg) is one of the main holidays during the year in both Sweden and Finland, alongside Christmas and Midsummer. The forms of celebration in Sweden vary in different parts of the country and between different cities. One of the main traditions in Sweden is to light large bonfires, a custom which is most firmly established in Svealand, and which began in Uppland during the 18th century. An older tradition from Southern Sweden was for the younger people to collect greenery and branches from the woods at twilight, which were used to adorn the houses of the village. The expected reward for this task is to be paid in eggs.

Today in Finland, Walpurgis Night (Vapunaatto) is, along with New Year’s Eve, the biggest carnival-style festivity that takes place in the streets of Finland’s towns and cities. The celebration is typically centered on plentiful use of sparkling wine and other alcoholic beverages. The student traditions are also one of the main characteristics of “Vappu“. From the end of the 19th century, “Fin de Siècle“, and onwards, this traditional upper class feast has been co-opted by students attending university, already having received their student cap. Many people who have graduated from lukio wear the cap.

One tradition is drinking sima, whose alcohol content varies. Fixtures include the capping of the Havis Amanda, a nude female statue in Helsinki, and the biannually alternating publications of ribald matter called Äpy and Julkku. Both are sophomoric; but while Julkku is a standard magazine, Äpy is always a gimmick. Classic forms have included an Äpy printed on toilet paper and a bedsheet. Often the magazine has been stuffed inside standard industrial packages such as sardine-cans and milk cartons. The festivities also include a picnic on May 1st, which is sometimes prepared in a lavish manner.

The Finnish tradition is also a shadowing of the Soviet Era May Day parade. Starting with the parties of the left, the whole of the Finnish political scene has nominated Vappu as the day to go out on stumps and agitate. This does not only include right-wing parties, but also others like the church have followed suit, marching and making speeches.

In Sweden it is only the labor and socialist parties which use May 1 for political activities, while others observe the traditional festivities. The laborers who were active in the 1970’s still party on the first of May. They arrange carnivals and the radio plays their old songs that workers liked to listen to. The labor spirit lies most in the capital of Finland, Helsinki.

The First of May is also a day for everything fun and crazy: children and families gather in market places to celebrate the first day of the spring and the coming summer. There are balloons and joy, people drink their first beers outside, there are clowns and masks and a lot of fun. The first of May includes colorful streamers, funny and silly things and sun. The first of May means the beginning of the spring for many people in Finland.

Traditionally May 1st is celebrated by a picnic in a park (Kaivopuisto in the case of Helsinki). For most, the picnic is enjoyed with friends on a blanket with good food and sparkling wine. Some people, however, arrange extremely lavish picnics with pavilions, white table cloths, silver candelabras, classical music and lavish food. The picnic usually starts early in the morning, and some hard-core party goers continue the celebrations of the previous evening without sleeping in between. Some Student organisations have traditional areas where they camp every year and they usually send someone to reserve the spot early on. As with other Vappu traditions, the picnic includes student caps, sima, streamers and balloons

The tradition which is most widespread throughout the country is probably singing songs of spring. Most of the songs are from the 19th century and were spread by students’ spring festivities. The strongest and most traditional spring festivities are also found in the old university cities, like Uppsala and Lund where both current and graduated students gather at events that take up most of the day from early morning to late night on April 30, or “sista April” (“The last day of April”) as many people call it. There are also newer student traditions like the carnival parade, The Cortège, which has been held since 1909 by the students at Chalmers in Gothenburg. In Sweden, Valborg is especially notorious because of the excessive amounts of alcohol people consume on that day.

Found at: Nation Master

The first of May is Beltane or May Day, a time to celebrate the leaping fires of passion. Traditionally celebrated on April 30, (May eve), it marks the height of spring and the flowering of all life. Beltane is a festival of sensuality, sexuality, flowers and delight. It is a traditional time to make love, preferably outdoors.

Beltane is the time when fairies return from their winter rest, carefree and full of mischief and delight. On the night before Beltane, in times past, folks would place rowan branches at their windows and doors for protection. If you do not wish the fairies to visit, do the same! This is also a perfect time for night or predawn rituals to draw down power to promote fertility in body and mind.

At Beltane, the Pleiades star cluster rises just before sunrise on the morning horizon. The Pleiades is known as the seven sisters, and resembles a tiny dipper-shaped pattern of six moderately bright stars in the constellation of Taurus, near the shoulder. Watch for it low in the east-northeast sky, just a few minutes before sunrise.

There are many lovely old customs associated with this time. Here are some simple ideas for celebrating this wild red time of year:

  • Make a garland or wreath of freshly picked flowers and wear it in your hair.
  • Dress in bright colors, especially hot pink or crimson, the traditional colors of Beltane, or wear green all day (and nothing all night!)
  • Hang fruits and baked goodies from trees and bushes for later feasting.
  • Build a Beltane fire: leap over it to cleanse yourself, or state your desires and let the fire carry them upward.
  • Leap over your garden rows (or house plants), sharing joyous energy.
  • Make a ‘May gad’: peel a willow-wand and twine cowslips or other flowers around it.
  • Throw a May Day party and feast on May wine and food till the dawn. Turn a broomstick into a maypole and see how many people you can get to dance round it.
  • Make love in the woods, in your garden, outside – at night.
  • Watch the sunrise. Pack a picnic breakfast, a blanket, and some sweaters; and head out before dawn. Unpack your picnic on a hill with an unobstructed view and enjoy the early morning rays as the sun peaks over the horizon.
  • Make a flower feast! Freeze edible flowers in your ice cubes. Add edible flowers to your salad. Candy flowers to decorate your dessert.
  • Make a May basket. Fill it with flowers, food, ribbons, and fun. Leave it on a doorstep of a lover or friend, or someone who cannot get outside, such as an invalid or elderly person.
  • Make a daisy chain and cast it into one of the lakes to please the water spirits.
  • Rise at dawn on May Day and wash in the morning dew: The woman who washes her face in it will be beautiful, the man who washes his hands will be skilled at knots and nets (always a useful skill for students).
  • Twist a Rowan sprig into a ring and look through it- tonight is one of the three in the year when the uninitiated can see the faeries.
  • Create a May Day altar with a mirror, a small maypole, a phallic shaped candle, a daisy chain and springtime flowers.
  • Light a fire or candle on the top of a hill and make a wish as you jump over it (for authenticity, you can try this sky clad, it would also be amusing for any passing late-night dog walkers!)
  • Perfume your house with delicate scent of woodruff, a tiny, star-like flower that blooms around this time in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Embrace the ones you love. Hugs and kisses all around.

Holidays are days made holy by the attention we pay them. Simple practices such as the ones listed above remind us that we too dance to the natural rhythms of the earth.

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August 2018
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Christmas


I think it's time to go shopping... maybe even buy some really cool stuff at my online shops!!

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