May Day! May Day!

How did you mark the first of May this year? May 1 is a day that has been honored for years by people all over the world, as a way of acknowledging the change of season, and later as a day to honor the fight for workers’ rights.

In Celtic religion, the festivals of Beltane marked the half year, and the change from darkness to light. In later Roman times, Beltane merged with Floralia festivals devoted to the goddess Flora. Copley has a number of books on both ancient Celtic and Roman religions:

Dictionary of Celtic religion and culture by Bernhard Maier

Celtic religion in Roman Britain by Graham Webster

Myths and legends of the Celts by James MacKillop

A companion to Roman religion edited by Jörg Rüpke

Pagan Britain by Ronald Hutton

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Have you ever joined in a May Pole celebration? Another May 1 custom, historians believe this ceremony has its root in fertility beliefs. For detailed instructions, see this article from the April 1, 1909 edition of the Journal of Education

May Pole.png


May 1 is also International Workers Day. In 1886, 300,000 workers across the United States walked out of their jobs in a fight for the eight-hour work day. Read more about it:

May day: a short history of the international workers’ holiday, 1886-1986  by Philip S. Foner


However you mark the passage of time from April to May, remember that Copley has the resources you need to read up on the history and culture of the festivities.




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