Wednesday 1 May 2024

First of May

 May Day - the date, not the distress call. Apparently that comes from the French m'aider - 'help me' and is a fairly recent invention, as is the designation of 1st May as International Workers' Day. It's been a Bank Holiday sine the 1970s but now rationalised to the nearest Monday. 

I'm thinking of something much older than all of these - Beltane - the Celtic festival between the spring solstice and midsummer. The start of summer, the coming of light, traditionally celebrated as a fire festival with beacons and bonfires. The light side of the celebrations are maypoles, Morris dancing and the crowning of a May Queen. Of course it is the darker side of the festival that interests me. I do write romantic suspense, after all, It has fascinated me since reading Mary Stewart's Wildfire at Midnight, many decades ago. The book is set on the Isle of Skye  with a series of murders and unexpected fires, with pagan overtones - very creepy. with lots of suspense.  

I always credit Mary Stewart with setting my taste in reading and I have nurtured the idea of a book featuring the pagan festivals for a long time. 

 I might actually be writing it at the moment. I'm indulging myself with the current WIP and a hint - maybe more than a hint - of the supernatural seems to be part of it. Not sure yet how it is going to work out - but all those folklore courses at the Lifelong Leaning Department of the University have to go somewhere. Beltane is a big draw, of course, but Midsummer might be a candidate as I think it may better fit my time line.

I'm inventing a village on the South Wales coast to go in the book so I can invent my own local celebrations to go with them.  I hope I can do it as well as Mary Stewart. 

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