Friday Feast | Welcoming the Ancient Tradition of Beltaine
Welcome to a special Friday Feast! I’m celebrating the first day of May a wee bit early. The summer gates of Beltaine swing open on this day, especially in the old Celtic calendar. In Irish mythology, events that marked an end to the old and the start of a new one took place on this day. Celebrations were held outdoors, and no work was to be done on this day. Rituals were performed to protect people, cattle, and crops.
In ancient times, Beltaine was celebrated with huge gatherings on top of the sacred hills, often near standing stones or cairns. Here the people would spend Beltaine Eve, staying up to watch the triumphant sun rise at dawn. All fires throughout the land were presided over by druid priests. Lighting the fires was a ritual act that ensured the sun’s light would bless the earth.
Between sunset and sunrise on Beltaine, many took to gathering flowers. It is said that on this night the faeries ride out into the world from their deep dwellings within the land. A magical time filled with great joy.
I am celebrating this weekend by playing in my garden. Snipping lavender, pinching off leaves of sage, and watching as my parsley burst forth from the dirt, and tending to all my flowers.
And so the wheel of life keeps turning, my friends.
“Deprived of root, and branch and rind…Yet flowers I bear of every kind…And such is my prolific power, they bloom in less than half an hour.”
–Jonathan Swift, A Maypol
Mini May Sandwiches
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ cup orange marmalade
¼ teaspoon almond extract
¼ cup crushed almonds (optional)
20 slices of bread (your preference)
Blend cream cheese, marmalade, and almond extract in a mixer or food processor until smooth. Stir in crushed almonds, if using.
With a rolling pin, slightly flatten each slice of bread.
Using your favorite cookie cutter, cut out pieces. (I use a 2-inch shamrock or heart-shaped cutter).
Spread mixture evenly to the edge of your bread and top with another piece of bread.
Depending on the size and type of bread I use, I might have left over cream cheese mixture. This also depends on how much you want to spread onto your bread, as well.
Take your leftover scraps of bread and give them to the birds. Or you could leave them out with a small glass of milk for the faeries.