May Day, May Day…

culture

As Caitlin mentioned, tonight/tomorrow morning is Beltane. Beltane or May Morning has its roots in a pagan celebration of the coming of spring and fertility, and involved a certain amount of what can only be called 'roistering'. May Day is celebrated rather raucously in Oxford. The festivities start around dawn, with the Magdalen College Choir singing from the top of Madgalen Tower to slap a bit of Christian gloss over the pagan woodwork. Then there's Morris Dancing in the streets ("Oh no, I can hear bells and clomping feet — the Morris Dancers are coming — run like the wind!"), music, singing and dancing.

Every year people get warned not to jump naked off Magdalen bridge into the Cherwell River, because of the hazards of submerged shopping trolleys lurking under the surface, but every year someone tries it. Part of the reason for people ignoring this sensible advice is probably because pubs and bars open specially at 6am, and many colleges have May Balls which don't end until 6am. It's amazing how large quantities of alcohol can lubricate the celebration of fertility. (Sorry, poor choice of words there...)

For me, Spring always feels like the real New Year — what is there to celebrate on the 1st of January? Spring is the time when everything really starts.

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