DO and MAKE Beltane Magick
Friday is Beltane, or May Day. Formal celebrations may be cancelled this year – we will miss our local Jack-in-the-Green parade very much – but this is a festival perfect for celebrating at home. Step into your garden, or use your exercise allowance to visit a green space near you and watch the sun rise. Legend has it that if you wash your faces in the morning dew, you’ll all have flawless complexions for the whole year (find out more here). Dress up for the occasion, we will take any excuse to sport a floral crown, and you’ll find ten dreamy ways to make them here. Traditionally, fires were lit at Beltane; if your garden is big and distant enough from neighbours to have your own, that would be fun, or you could scale things down and use candles. Alternatively, try creating something as a family, looking for faeries, or going camping in your back garden – explore more of our ideas here, or scroll down for more inspiration. Finally, as lockdown for us is mainly about eating, find Mayday recipes, including nettle sauce, sweet herb tart and woodruff wine here
DO, LEARN, RECIPE The Witching Hours
Fancy a darker celebration? Walpurgis Night is celebrated across northern Europe on the night of April 30 (Tuesday) and the day of May 1. In Germanic folklore, this was Hexennacht (Witches’ Night), the time when the magical women gathered on the Brocken, the highest peak in the Harz mountains. Consequently, fires are lit to ward off evil spirits. Traditions vary across Europe; in Bavaria, teenagers play pranks, in Thueringen, girls dress up as witches, while in parts of Finland, people run screaming through the streets drinking and wearing masks. They also eat Walpurgis Doughnut Holes, find an easy recipe here. Many places make straw scarecrows to toss on the bonfires, thought to be soaked in the bad luck and grumpiness from the year gone. You’ll discover more about the festival here, including a colourful and fascinating video. Why not hold your own celebration with bonfires, a straw figure and general witchiness – the decision to gather in your own coven or to attempt to ward off the broomstick bashers is entirely yours!
DO and LEARN Wild Lines
We may not be able to enjoy the full rainbow of nature that’s currently bursting from the fields and hedgerows, but we can still celebrate it. Earthwatch have this week launched a competition for poetry inspired by nature as part of their Wild Days online programme of indoor and outdoor lockdown learning activities. We’ve had a trial run in our house, and have come up with poems inspired by owls, nests, trees and, um, tapirs. Check out head judge Michaela Strachan’s A-Z poem for inspiration, then get writing; there are prizes of books and seeds for the best works.
DO and LEARN Space Cadets
Got a junior space scientist in the house? Point them in the direction of Astro Science Challenge Live, a new initiative by the Unlimited Space Agency. It’s a dedicated virtual training programme for young astronauts and space explorers, with video messages from ambassador Tim Peake. The mission is designed for children aged 7-11, and uses the ASC app to set missions for young cadets to learn, earn badges and eventually become fully-fledged Agents of UNSA – there are also teacher resources to link the course to the KS2 National Curriculum. There will also be twice-weekly live YouTube broadcasts from UNSA’s HQ - The Space Shed - with space and STEM experts dialling in to answer questions.
DO Join the Twitterati
Rise, shine, and open up your ears – this Sunday is International Dawn Chorus Day! This year, of course, there are no organised events. However, a survey by 24 Acoustics has revealed that birdsong during lockdown is clearer than ever, and the RSPB has reported a rise in sightings of garden birds. Take advantage of the quieter surroundings and bolder birds to immerse yourself in nature’s symphony. Make it an adventure, and get up while it’s still dark, sit and enjoy it in your garden, head to a park or green space near you, or simply open your window. The first birds start to sing about an hour before sunrise, there’s an excellent guide to the phenomenon here. If you can’t get out to listen to the glorious chorus in real life, listen in to a Soundcamp broadcast, which tracks sunrise west to east, bringing together microphones from windows, rooftops, gardens, forests and sites across the world. Alternatively, BBC Radio 4 have an archive of more twittery aural deliciousness here.
What we’ve been listening to this week:
BBC Radio 4’s From Our Home Correspondent
We caught this week’s episode of this monthly programme unexpectedly, and were drawn in by its mix of voices. The writer whose magical, exploratory hikes have been temporarily put on hold, an informative run through how the battle of Culloden still resonates today, and a piece about North Koreans in the UK on lockdown. However, it was the clear voice of a lone parent isolated with her small child that resonated hard. In it, a Dorset mother describes how the kindnesses of neighbours are amplified, how she finds joyfulness in the Thursday clap, and the positive and negative sides of a life spent in a much smaller than usual way. A beautiful few minutes. Catch up here
Found something inspirational to read that you’d like to share? Want to share your lockdown creations with us? Have an idea for things to do? We’d love to hear from you. Email Kate