May Day, Beltane, Easter, and their Fires

Mythology Matters

This year in Russia and other Orthodox Christian countries, both Easter and May Day fall on this Sunday, May 1st. This coincidence calls us to consider the similarities in mythological, religious, and psychological meanings behind these spring seasonal holidays.

Easter and May Day form links in a longer a chain of seasonal holidays reflecting the ending of winter and the return of the sun and vegetation. In our times, it begins in February with Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, and Carnival (as described in my blog posts on these holidays), continues through Easter and May Day, and ends with Midsummer Night at the summer solstice. The remaining seasonal holidays in the calendar year reflect the waning of the sun and death of vegetation, until the winter solstice holidays which introduce the new seasonal cycle (creation of a new year). As this winter-to-summer period proceeds, the meaning of…

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