Thursday, 8 May 2014

The May Bush

The blessings of Bealtaine to you!
Bealtaine, the month of May, was anciently regarded as the start of summer and many customs grew around this time of celebration when the land began to produce her abundance and the hours of daylight increased. 
In times past people honoured the start of summer by decorating a May bush which was thought to bring luck to the household and give protection against Otherworldly influences at a time of year when the 'good people', the Sídhe, left their homes in the hollow hills and traversed the countryside.  
In almost all areas of County Laois, where I live, a hawthorn or holly branch was brought to be set in front of the home place and decorated with egg shells, ribbons and bunches of yellow flowers. In other parts of the country small candles or rush lights surrounded the bush and were lit at dusk on May Eve. 

These practices were recorded as taking place in the 1930's and were considered to echo  a remnant of our pagan past when the sun was welcomed as it united with the land.
I was delighted to discover that the May bush tradition has been revived in Laois.
Several years ago I visited this one outside a house on the Slieve Bloom mountains.

Then this year I spotted another decorated bush indicating, hopefully, that this Bealtaine tradition will continue and thrive.