Time for rebirth!

May is upon us and the whole world is ready to be rebirthed! This year the symbolization of rebirth is maybe more relevant than it ever has been in the last century. As our world tries to win over the Covid-19 crisis, step by step a new era rises, just like how nature flourishes again in the spring after a strong and difficult winter. Here at Salome, we could not be happier, more vibrant, and more energetic about the good days that are coming. 

To celebrate with you we decided to share a few stories about our favorite May Day traditions and brighten up your mood with colors, flowers and of course jewellery.

For decades, people all over Europe have celebrated the beginning of new life in Spring in some way. As the continent became more Christian, these pagan rituals became more secular, but some customs like the crowning of a May Queen, the Maypole, and Morris dancing remain.

May depiction from a book of hours – V&A Museum

But when did it all start and why?

May Day celebrations can be traced back to pre-Christian times. Florialia was a festival in ancient Rome held at the end of April to honor Flora, the goddess of flowers and fertility. In ancient Greece, Maios (Latin Maius), the month of May, was named after the goddess Maia, one of the Pleiades’ sisters and a Greek and Roman fertility goddess and celebrated the triumph of life over death.

Halfway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, the Celts celebrated Beltane, a pagan holiday. Since pagan times, May Day has been observed as the feast of Beltane (Bealtaine). In Ireland, bonfires were traditionally lit to herald the arrival of summer and to bring good fortune to people and livestock. Beltane was a festival that celebrated life. It denoted the end of Spring and the start of Summer. The word 'Beltane' comes from the Celtic God 'Bel,' which means 'bright one,' and the Gaelic word 'teine,' which means fire. They render 'Bright Fire,' or 'Goodly Fire,' and the bonfires were lit to honor the Sun and promote Bel and the Sun's light to nourish the emerging future harvest and protect the community.

In the more recent years May Day is still a holiday commemorating the arrival of spring. Many people celebrate May Day by holding festivals or planting flowers. The earth’s energies are at their most powerful and alive. Every aspect of life is brimming with fertile potential, and at this point in the Wheel of the Year, that potential transforms into conception.

The maypole is one of the oldest May Day customs which amazingly has reached even our century. A maypole is a painted tree trunk or pole with colorful ribbons that people dance around, holding the ribbons and celebrating the rebirth of the earth. 

May Day, Hyde Park Underground – V&A Museum
Poster issued by Underground Electric Railways Co. of London, Ltd. 1924


Another custom, in addition to the maypole, is the distribution of May Day baskets. The baskets are made of paper and filled with flowers by children. The baskets are then delivered to the homes of their neighbors. They leave a basket at the door, knock, and then disappear before the neighbor responds.

In many countries, there is also the tradition of preparing a flower wreath from wildflowers and it is the most popular feature of modern May Day celebrations. However, as a result of urbanization, there is a growing trend to buy wreaths from flower shops. In Greece the flowers are mounted on the wreath against a backdrop of green leaves, and the wreath is hung either on the front door or on a balcony of the family's home/apartment. It stays there until the middle of the summer night. Traditionally, the flower wreaths were set alight in bonfires known as St John's fires on that night. The flower wreaths were consumed by the fire, which were leapt over by the youths.

Sophie Anderson, Take the fair face of woman, 19th century

Our last, but not least, favorite tradition is a Hawaiian and beautiful one. In Hawaii, the holiday of May is known as Lei Day, and people wear leis, or flower necklaces. Hawaiian culture, or the aloha spirit, is celebrated on Lei Day. Leis are usually given as gifts to one another to commemorate the occasion. In addition, schools put on plays and elect a Lei Day court of Kings and Queens to represent the various islands. Each island has a unique emblem consisting of a color and a flower. The lei is significant in Hawaiian culture because it is intended to reflect an unspoken message of aloha. The theory is that although the lei is only temporary, the thought is eternal.

It is truly amazing to think how different cultures celebrate the same day and theme in their own way. It makes us understand how the world is just a big family. What also personally amazes me is how old the tradition of May Day is. Hopefully one that will last for the centuries to come. 

Now, if you feel ready to go out there and celebrate May Day with a picnic and maybe a dance around a maypole while wearing your flower crown, why not also accompany your spring outfit with some more jewellery to truly look like a queen of spring. Maybe some Rose Quartz or Aquamarine earrings to match the colorful flowers on your hair, or a Rainforest Jasper bracelet to become one with the colors of nature! Everything you need you can find in our amazing and colorful collections. Celebrate spring with us and get ready for the sunny days that are coming!

Written by Evdokia Samara