May, for many a month for mothers and many celebrations

At least the sun is showing it warmer rays and embraces us like mothers do. In several countries the month of May is the month where mothers are honoured. In several Catholic countries or regions the 15th of August is mothers day. (In our family the 15th of August was always that special day for coming together with the whole family honouring the mother who spent so much energy of her life in taking care of the next generation.)

In Dutch there  is the saying: “In mei leggen alle vogels een ei”, “in May all birds lay an egg” pointing out to the season where good thoughts and many new adventures get their start.

English: Brocken Spectre from the summit of Me...

Brocken Spectre from the summit of Meall an Fhudair (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After Walpurgisnacht or Heksennacht or Hexennacht (literally “Witches’ Night“) the night of 30 April,when the people in Northern Europe (Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland and Estonia) remember how the witches came together at the Brocken spectre the highest peak in the Harz Mountains (3,747 ft or 1,142 m high), a range of wooded hills in north central Germany between the rivers Weser and Elbe. The Brocken spectre is a magnified shadow of an observer, typically surrounded by rainbow-like bands, thrown on to a bank of cloud in high mountain areas when the sun is low. The phenomenon was first reported on the Brocken.

In Germany the holiday is celebrated by dressing in costumes, playing pranks on people, and creating loud noises meant to keep evil at bay (You can compare it with Halloween). Many people also hang blessed sprigs of foliage from houses and barns to ward off evil spirits, or they leave pieces of bread spread with butter and honey, called ankenschnitt, as offerings for phantom hounds.

In Catholic countries many of those traditions are taken into the church rituals and people put ‘palm’ (buxus cuttings) around the house to protect their belongings.

People at a Vappu picnic in Kaivopuisto in 2008

In Finland Walpurgis Night and May Day are effectively merged into a single celebration that is usually referred to as Vappu and that is among the country’s four biggest holidays along with Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and Midsummer (Juhannus). It is the biggest carnival-style festival held in the streets of Finland’s towns and cities. Initially, Walpurgis Night was celebrated by the Finnish upper class. Then, in the late 19th century, students (particularly engineering students) took up its celebration.  Many lukio (university-preparatory high school) alumni (who are thus traditionally assumed to be university bound), wear a cap. One tradition is to drink alcoholic beverages, particularly sparkling wine or  sima, a home-made low-alcohol mead, along with freshly cooked funnel cakes

Children dancing around a maypole as part of a May Day celebration in Welwyn, England

Walpurgis Night bonfire in Sweden

In many regions it is a special month to celebrate the gods and to invoke their goodness.
May Day on May 1 is such an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday. After having looked at the witches and having hold ‘revels with the devil’, people now turn to their masters and gods of nature. In some parts of northern coastal regions of Germany, the custom of lighting huge 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” (Osterfeuer).

In several villages the goddess of the flowers and of the renewal of nature is celebrated and Maypole dancing is part of the “Þrimilci-mōnaþ” or “Month of Three Milkings“. Also known as Ashtoria Day in northern parts of rural Cumbria people hope for nice weather to have a celebration of unity and female bonding.

In several places where there is water a Flower Boat Ritual is hold, like in Kingsand, Cawsand and Millbrook in Cornwall.

In Edinburgh, the Beltane Fire Festival is held on the evening of May eve and into the early hours of May Day on the city’s Calton Hill. An older Edinburgh tradition has it that young women who climb Arthur’s Seat and wash their faces in the morning dew will have lifelong beauty.

GentseFloralien_fleurmagazine.be2This year the Floralia Gent show or the 35th edition of Floralies took place from 22 April to 1 May 2016, in the Arts Quarter of Ghent (Citadelpark, Sint-Pietersplein, Leopoldskazerne and Bijlokesite) where flowers and plants intertwined with prestigious landmarks in the city.

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In the capital of Belgium it will be in the Summer that a carpet of 75m x 24 m brings 1,800 m2 of begonias, or around 300 cut flowers per m2! Every other summer, on the weekend of August 15th, the Flower Carpet offers a chance to stroll across the Grand-Place, a jewel of Gothic architecture, to inhale the fragrant scent of the begonias and admire its details. This extraordinary spectacle is made complete by a visit to the balcony of the Town Hall, which offers a wide-angle view of the work. A musical theme is especially composed for each edition. A concert is given on the Grand-Place every evening and accompanies a magnificent sound-and-light show. A hundred volunteers assemble the carpet in 4 hours. The first Flower Carpet of Brussels was created in 1971 and has been a showstopper every two years on the Grand-Place since 1986.

De socialistische bewegingen trekken door de straten. - Foto Rutger LievensVakbond ABVV | ActiesFor atheists or those who did not believe in gods the day, being a holiday was taken to come together to talk about our society and how work and family-time had to go together.  Labourers and the working classes are put in the picture that day. The date was chosen for International Workers’ Day by the Second International, a pan-national organization of socialist and communist political parties, to commemorate the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago on 4 May 1886. { Foner, Philip S. (1986). May Day: A Short History of the International Workers’ Holiday, 1886–1986. New York: International Publishers. pp. 41–43. ISBN 0-7178-0624-3.}

Various socialist and communist organisations hold parades in different cities on that day to react to what is going wrong in the country and for telling the politicians what is really needed for the people.

eerlijker is beter

After the 1st of May, labour day, when no labour is done for most of the people, they soon could find themselves either in a full week free (half term holiday or bank holiday) or could face a long free weekend starting with the 4th or Vetran Day or with the 5th of May (for Catholics the feast of Jesus bing taken up in the skies), in several countries the special “Cinco de Mayo“,  the Mexican army‘s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín, followed by the May 8 “Mother’s Day” and on the 15th of May for many “Pentecost” followed by Pentecost Monday. In several countries one or the other day of the month is also taken to remember the war days and as such we had yesterday and today Remembrance and Veteran days plus on May 21 “Armed Forces Day” followed by May 30 for many countries another “Memorial Day”

In the Chinese Zodiac, 2016 is the year of the Monkey (Yang Water) whilst for the Native American Zodiac the 5th and 8th of May, 2016 shall fall under the Beaver.

Hope all you moms had fun today!

Moms to look at! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On that mother’s day, people can remember the birth of Harry S. Truman (US President), David Attenborough (British broadcaster), Sonny Liston (Boxer) and Enrique Iglesias (Singer). By that day of mothers, from the writing of this article, 345,600 seconds will have passed between now and the 8th of May, the earth having travelled approximately 178,329,600 miles through space whilst perhaps 4,147 meteors shall have entered the earth’s atmosphere.

We all have a special connection with our mother, she being the one who brought us unto this life. We can never never outgrow her and no one shall ever be able to deny the roots of that special person who is responsible that we are. It is to that person we should be grateful for what we are today. Your mother made you. Thanks to her you got an education, got to know things about yourself and those around you.

Often it are also those mothers who take care that there is plenty of food on such festivals as mentioned above. Mostly it are they who make the best of a special day by providing the best of food.

In a way every day of the year should be a mother’s day.
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Preceding articles: All things seem possible in May

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Further reading

  1. Floraliën Gent don’t miss out
  2. Floralies Ghent
  3. Anniversary: 20th Flower Carpet! An ephemeral show on the world’s most beautiful central square
  4. Celebrating the Netherland’s King’s Birthday.
  5. Best of days: 2016 May 8
  6. April Writing & Reading Goals Check (May Goals)
  7. Hello May
  8. 1 May: Blind, Unknowing, Zealous Jenny
  9. How Do You Set Your Goals?
  10. Monthly Goals
  11. May Goals. 1
  12. May Goals 2
  13. May Goals 3
  14. May Goals 4
  15. May 2016 Goals! 5
  16. May 2016 Goals 6
  17. May Goals 7
  18. May Savings with Georgine
  19. Mother’s Day Sentiments
  20. When Your Friend Is Grieving On Mother’s Day
  21. My mother is strong, fierce—and fragile
  22. Mom
  23. Before It Is Too Late
  24. 12 DIY Mother’s Day Gifts (that she’ll actually like)
  25. Mothers’ May – 5/4/16
  26. Writing Prompt Wednesday
  27. Mother’s Day Card 2016
  28. Clear the List: May 2016
  29. Change of Plans
  30. June Goals

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11 Comments

Filed under History, Lifestyle, Religious affairs, Social affairs

11 responses to “May, for many a month for mothers and many celebrations

  1. Pingback: Allow yourself a chill-out day | From guestwriters

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