“What Beltane actually is it’s like an old holiday, like Pagan but also Greek and Roman, it’s just an old holiday back when we were relying on crops cause it’s like the peak of spring, right in between the spring equinox and summer solstice. So what I do is I have a bowl of water that I place at the window at the start of the morning, and it collects the sun during the day and you put in your yellow flowers, or just any flowers you have to symbolize spring, and you can manifest over it. It’s an offering to the Mayday goddess, she’s not necessarily someone I follow, but I just like that it’s the same day as my birthday so I always do a little thing for it, a little offering. It’s more of like, a new beginnings thing, cause it’s actually the start of my next year of life. It’s sort of cleansing, I think in general spring is the time for that, new growth, birth and all that. A lot of people do fertility stuff, for me it’s just clean slate, new beginnings, on my birthday. I find it calming to have my own space, mediate, manifest, and go about my day.
Y is a 19-year-old college student from Denver, Colorado. She started celebrating Beltane when she was in middle school, after she found out it was on the same day as her birthday. She doesn’t follow any pagan faith or celebrate any other Sabbats, so this celebration is both a Beltane ritual and more of a personal birthday ritual. She is actually of the Muslim faith, and says the ritual is technically a sin in her religion. She interprets the ritual and Beltane celebration more as a birthday cleansing ritual and as a quiet moment for her to calm herself before her birthday begins and reflect on what she wants in the year ahead.
Beltane is one of the holidays that follows the agricultural calendar and also follows our life cycles, representing the cyclical calendar.. It happens on May 1st, during a time of great agricultural reproduction and the planting and growing of new crops. It also represents the time of budding youth in the life cycle. It’s similar to the saying of a May-December wedding, referring to when a young girl (in her May era) marries an old man (in his December era). May, spring, and Beltane are associated with new beginnings and growth in both the life cycle and agricultural cycle. This particular Beltane ritual especially represents new beginnings, as for Y it represents a new year of her life. The fact that she celebrates this holiday is very interesting because it illustrates an inter splicing of faiths. She is Muslim, and doesn’t usually celebrate the pagan holidays of the Sabbats. She chooses to celebrate this one because it’s on her birthday, which makes it also a birthday celebration. Birthday celebrations are one of the three big steps in life that are usually celebrated: birth, marriage, and death. Birthdays represent coming into a new identity, and are a time of liminality when a person is first becoming that new age. A lot of birthday celebrations are group celebrations, such as singing Happy Birthday together. Some people say that birthday parties started because the birthday, as a day of liminality, is a day when a person is more vulnerable to spirits, so groups would gather to protect the birthday person. Birthdays are also a time of private ritual though, many people have their own private rituals they do on the day to either reflect back on their life, or imagine the possibilities the new age will bring them. Y uses her birthday ritual to manifest good things into her life for the next year. This illustrates Dundes’ argument that the American worldview is very future centric. Instead of reflecting of the past, she looks forward to the future on her birthday. It is also an example of how American society looks at time linearly. Despite celebrating a festival like Beltane that uses cyclical time, her perspective of her birthday moving forward linearly is an example of her experiencing linear time.