Sermon: May Day: A Pagan Sabbath
Origins and Meaning Of May 1st
Charles Whitaker (1944-2021)
Given 01-May-10; 34 minutes
Today, May 1st, is May Day. May Day is not just a day where children innocently gambol around maypoles and have fun. As we will see, May Day sinks its roots deep down into the extreme depths of paganism. It is one of the eight days of the year sacred to Satan; it is awitch's sabbath.
Let us spend a few minutes reviewing the roots of May Day. May Day has several roots, but today I want to talk only about its connection to two:
- First, the Celtic festival of Beltane, and
- Second, the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night.
The Celtic festival of Beltane is spelled B-e-l-t-a-n-e. However, its old spelling is Bealtaine. Some etymologists trace it to the Scythians, whom we understand to be ancient Israelites. However, none that I could find relate Beltane to its obvious root: the practice of Baal worship, sun worship. Celtic and other northern European people decorated what they called May bushes with "flowers, ribbons, garlands and colored egg shells," usually on or around April 30th. Then the bushes become fuel for large bonfires, usually lit on the top of hills in the evening. The next day, May 1st, was a day of celebration, often involving frolicking around maypoles. Anciently, much of this frolicking was transvestite in nature. This was a spring festival. Notice, that it was weeks after the Spring Equinox (March 21st). That is because the effects of spring do not reach northern Europe until late April or early May. So, the various Celtic peoples delay their spring festivals.
What about maypoles? Scholars have no doubt at all that they are a phallic symbol. However, I want to mention another pagan tradition that is really telling. Some people held that the maypole was a viaduct, or a pathway or conduit, as it were, by which demons trapped in the earth could escape and climb to the surface—and from there reach heaven. People who followed this tradition purposely set up maypoles as a way of releasing evil spirits from their prison in the earth.
This is a good opportunity to mention another day filled with demon worship: All Saints Day, on November 1st. This day falls exactly six months after May Day, and is another witches' sabbath.
Well, as the Catholic Church became influential in some Celtic areas, May Day became Mary's Day. They simply added an "r" to it. It involved a rite of crowning the queen of heaven with a garland of colorful springtime flowers. The Catholics actually turned the maypole into a symbol of—yes, you guessed it—the Tree of Life, while other priests actually taught that Christ was crucified on a maypole. Now, I ask you, just how dark can peoples' minds become?
I mentioned that there was a second root of May Day, and that was Germanic rather than Celtic. What is Walpurgis Night? It is big in Scandinavian and Baltic countries to this day. In Estonia, for example, it is called "Spring Day". Anciently, it was a day when witches gathered. And to this day, Germanic and Scandinavian peoples still dress up as witches and they carnival, in basically a mardi gras manner, all on May 1st.
I simply cannot pass up reading this quote to you:
Celebrations are especially vigorous in Tartu, the university town in Southern Estonia. For Estonian students in fraternities and sororities, the night starts with a traditional march through the streets of Tartu, followed by visiting of each others' fraternity or sorority houses throughout the night. The following day (May 1st) is known as Hangover Day ... [Not Hanover day, but Hangover Day].
Leigh Hunt, an English essayist, wrote that May Day is "the union of the two best things in the world, the love of nature, and the love of each other." Now, by his term, "the love of nature," referring to the green aspect of May Day, the homage paid to nature, to the warming spring sun through bonfires and such. But, in referring to the "love of each other," he is addressing the social-political aspects of May Day. Yes, unlike many pagan religious holidays, May Day carries with it significant political meanings. It is important politically. As examples, consider that the Act of Union, a law that officially aligned England and Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, came into effect on May 1, 1707. Or, again, the law prohibiting the slave trade in British dominions went into effect on May 1, 1807. There are tens and tens of laws over the last few hundreds of years that went into effect on May 1st.
But, it gets a whole lot worse, brethren. May Day is a day of confrontation, just as Satan's way is to confront God. Outside of North America, working class people succeeded in making May Day a state holiday. On this day, in much of the world, from Australia to Scandinavia to South America, workers, trade unionists, anarchists, communists and socialists, mount massive rallies. I believe, even in America, confrontational rallies are planned over Arizona's immigration law and related issues, all on May Day.
Many of you remember the military parades that the old Soviet Union sponsored on May Day. Yes, today, May Day has turned into an icon of the socialists. For example, the Second International, a rather influential conference of socialist groups headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, met in Paris in 1889. This was to proclaim May 1st as: "International Workers' Day, or Labor Day, a day of political demonstrations and celebrations organized by the unions, anarchist, and socialist groups." The idea caught on, not only in Europe, but, basically, worldwide, with the exception of the United States and Canada, and a relatively few other countries.
I will not take the time to address why the United States avoided May 1st as her labor day, except to say that it had to do with the Haymarket Square Massacre of Chicago on May Day in 1886. In a May Day strike against McCormick Harvester, someone threw a bomb into a group of policemen, resulting in the death of a number of strikers and policemen. Six months later, four of the striker's organizers were hanged, all apparently innocent of the actual violence. They did not make the bomb, they did not throw the bomb, they simply had organized the strike. The incident became international in proportion, causing Grover Cleveland no end of trouble. In the end, American policy makers opted for a different day for Labor Day, to avoid the stigma and controversy of the Haymarket incident.
Anyway, in other parts of the world, May 1st is commonly kept as Labor Day. In Finland, for example, not only political activists, but church organizations of all persuasions use May 1st to parade, to march and to rally. Much the same is true in Sweden, but there the rallies are pretty much restricted to left-wing parties.
In the United States, May Day celebrations came to be perceived as communist. So, in 1958, late in the Eisenhower Administrations, Congress established May 1st as what they called Loyalty Day. Although May 1st is a legal holiday, it is not commonly observed in this country at this time. I suggest to you, that as we become more socialist, that might change. This year and next, May Day falls on the week-ends. If you will permit me to put it this way, the socialists may capitalize on these weekend occurrences to get as much mileage from May Day as possible.
If you want to know when and where the next march or riot is going to be—so you can be there, just visit protest.net, a cyber gathering-place for social agitators, where a lot of organized protests are announced around the world. Regarding May Day, I found this rather typical comment on the website:
May Day is a chance for private and public sector workers to challenge the corporate and government power plays that are not fair to the working families who built our communities.
A slogan I found on this site well epitomizes the socialist underpinnings of May Day:
"May Day. May Day. Make them Pay."
I have purposely deferred talking about May Day in England, where the day was, and is, extremely important. In fact, I believe it is still a bank holiday there.
When talking about the roots of May Day in England, I think we can say that the M's have it. You will see what I mean. In ancient Britain, under Roman influence, the queen of heaven was called Maid Marian. She was the focus of attention on May Day. Also called Merry Maid, her name was later shortened to mermaid: she was a goddess of the sea. Who worshipped her? Well, who else other than—you guessed it—mariners. The words mermaid and mariner find their root in the Latin word for the sea, mare, which became merry in English. This is where the term Merry Old England comes from, ultimately from merry or mare, the Latin word for sea. The ancient Britons worshipped Maid Marian as the sea goddess.
Some scholars connect Maid Marian with Maia, the ancient Greek fertility goddess after whom the month of May is named. I suspect that, at least in England, May Day represents the merging—or coming together—of at least two pagan traditions:
- The worship of Maia, a Greek fertility goddess in the spring
- The worship of a sea goddess, Maid Marian.
The two traditions seem to come together in an ancient moniker for England that carries both concepts of springtime fertility and the ocean. England was called the Rose [there is the springtime aspect] of the Sea.
We all know that England today is quite socialist. The socialist aspect of May Day all comes together in the tale of Robin Hood. There, Maid Marian is surrounded with merry men: Little John, Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck, Robin Hood, and others form a band of thirteen. The story of Robin Hood is the tale of a robber (and a hood), who stole from the wealthy to give to the poor, and that is what socialism is all about—wealth-redistribution. Robin Hood and his merry men were socialists, no better than the power-hungry crooks who steal from us today, shielded by the law of the land. "May Day. May Day. Make them Pay." In fact, in England, I believe to this day, the sexual cavorting that takes place on May Day is often called, "Robin Hood Games."
When we talk of pagan holidays—like Christmas, or Easter we generally speak of sun worship and of cults around a fertility goddess, as with Isis or Osiris. This is correct. We seldom connect these abhorrent religious practices with economic and social realities, either past or present. But, in May Day we vividly see both. We see the worship of the sun in the bonfires, and we see the worship of fertility goddesses in the lurid dancing around a maypole, streamers attached to its top. But we also are unable to miss the political aspects attached to May Day, the godless social dogmas preached by Satan and his demons. Such practices have their root in idolatry, which Paul, in Colossians 3:5, connects to covetousness. Socialism is fed by peoples' covetousness, their desire for a free lunch, for the wealth of the rich.
With May Day, it all comes together. May Day is probably the best single example of the connection—the relationship—between the sexually oriented, ancient fertility worship of the Babylonian system and the modern-day political movements of communism, socialism and environmentalism. I think you all recognize that environmentalism is at heart the cult of the earth. The true believers of environmentalism worship the earth goddess, Gaia, in her various forms.
I want to connect May Day with the pagan calendar. I want to do this so that you understand how pervasive Paganism is, and how it just surrounds us, and impregnates this entire civilization. But, first, I need to define the term neo-pagan. The neo-pagans are modern-day people who study ancient pagan practices and deliberately adopt them. You may have heard about modern-day Druids, people who follow the old druid ceremonies. This is an example of neo-paganism. Another example is found in Wicca. The wiccans are those who follow the old practices of witchcraft.
To neo-pagans of any stripe, May 1st is called a cross-quarter day. A cross-quarter day is:
a day falling approximately halfway between a solstice and an equinox. These days originated as pagan holidays in Sweden, Norway, Finland, United Kingdom and Ireland, [notice, these are all Israelite nations] and [they] survive in modern times as neo-pagan holidays.
The Wiccans call the cross-quarter days "the Greater Shabbats," or the greater sabbaths. Let us look a bit deeper:
The Wheel of the Year is a Wiccan and neo-pagan term for the annual cycle of the earth's seasons. It consists of eight festivals, spaced at approximately even intervals throughout the year. These festivals are referred to by Wiccans as Sabbats.
Witchcraft's wheel of the year has eight special days, which I will review briefly. The dates are approximate, and they can vary by a week or so, depending on location and tradition:
- December 21st: the Winter Solstice connected with Christmas, and we know it has many pagan roots.
- February 1st: a cross-quarter day (half way between a Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox). It is associated with Groundhog Day (February 2nd) and Candlemas, a Catholic holiday supposedly celebrating the dedication of Christ at the Temple (40 days after Christmas).
- March 21st: the Vernal Equinox. You all know that Easter is determined as the first Sunday after the full moon after March 21st.) We all know that the modern celebration of Easter has deep pagan roots.
- May 1st: This is a cross-quarter day, coming between the Vernal Equinox and the Summer Solstice. As I have pointed out, its various celebrations are connected with heat and light—with bonfires. It is a part of sun worship, where evil spirits come to the forefront of peoples' minds, just as they do in another pagan festival, six months later, Halloween.
- June 21st: the Summer Solstice
- August 1st: This is another cross-quarter day, falling half way between a Summer Solstice and Autumnal Equinox. Some pagans actually celebrated a "Festival of First Fruits" on the full moon closest to August 1st—talk about these days being counterfeits of God's true holy days. In America, many local corn festivals occur around this time. It is the national holiday of Switzerland.
- September 22nd: the Autumnal Equinox.
- November 1st: This is another cross-quarter day, (like February 1st, May 1st, August 1st) falling half way between the Autumnal Equinox and the Winter Solstice. It is also All Saints Day, Halloween falling the night before. It is also the occasion of Ancestor Day, or the Night of the Dead (November 2nd). November 1st is:
considered by most Wiccans to be the most important of the four "greater Sabbats." [That is, the four cross-quarter days]. It is generally observed on October 31st in the Northern Hemisphere, starting at sundown [Notice, these "Sabbaths" start at sundown—another way in which they counterfeit God's true Sabbaths and holy days. [It] is considered by some Wiccans as a time ... [of] paying respect to ancestors, family members, elders of the faith, friends, pets and other loved ones who have died. ... It is seen as a festival of darkness, which is balanced at the opposite point of the wheel by [May Day, 6 months away], which Wiccans celebrate as a festival of light and fertility [for example, with the bonfires of which we spoke].
Turn please, to Amos 5. We will get there in a few minutes. As we went along, I touched on some comparisons between Satan's Sabbaths and God's. At the most superficial level is the number of the occasions. Satan has eight. God also has eight if you count the non-Sabbath occasion of the Passover. Otherwise, God has seven Holy days compared to Satan's eight. Seven is the number of perfection. Eight is the number of new beginnings. How much Satan desires to build a new world, a new order, based on his way of life. He touts change, a movement to his worldview. In pop culture, how many songs talk about a new world?
- Roger Whittaker's 1971 folksong, New World in the Morning.
- John Lennon's dreadful Imagine.
- Leonard Bernstein's and Stephen Sondheim's Somewhere, in West Side Story
All of these address the artist's hope for a new world. There are many other examples in music and in literature. Even in art. The works of Thomas Kinkade shout the artist's vision of a new world. The adversary wants mankind to seek new ways. But, in Jeremiah 6:16, to which I will not ask you to turn, God tells us to seek the "ancient paths".
In Amos 5, God is speaking to a religious people, to Israel, but to a people who worshipped God on their own terms—the way they wanted to. God's judgment is severe.
Amos 5:21-27 I hate, I despise your feasts! I can't stand the stench of your solemn assemblies. Even if you offer Me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept [them]; I will have no regard for your fellowship offerings of fattened cattle. Take away from Me the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice flow like water, and righteousness, like an unfailing stream. "House of Israel, was it sacrifices and grain offerings that you presented to Me during the 40 years in the wilderness? But you have taken up Sakkuth your king and Kaiwan your star god, images you have made for yourselves. So I will send you into exile beyond Damascus."
In John 4, Christ elaborates. Speaking to the Samaritan woman, Christ makes it clear that we cannot effectively worship God the way that we want to.
John 4:23-24 But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
Isaiah 5:12 At their feasts they have lyre, harp, tambourine, flute, and wine. They do not perceive the LORD's actions, and they do not see the work of His hands. Therefore My people go into exile because they lack knowledge...
This passage is very similar to Amos 5.
In both Amos and Isaiah, the judgment is the same: exile. It is really quite interesting. Whether in the case of ancient Israel, or modern-day Israel, those who have turned to pagan practices do indeed see God's works. But, they call it nature, and indeed Mother Nature, relating it to a fertility goddess. They talk about its beauty and order. Today, they produce magnificent—and very costly—computer-enhanced pictures of far-away galaxies. I have seen advanced imaging techniques put to use to document, beautifully, the human gestation process. But, then they abort the child. You see, they do not see God in His Own creation. They do not accept His Law and His rule in their lives. They do not see this order and this beauty as the work of His hands. They see nature as none has ever seen it before. But, they do not see God. Even with super-sophisticated instrumentation and technology at their disposal, modern-day Israelites have minds so darkened that they are unable to see God in His Own creation.
Looking around at it, considering all the evil, taking in all of the vast landscape of a civilization in thrall to Satan, we are left only to gasp. That landscape rightfully upsets us and makes us indignant, as we sigh and cry over the depth and the scope of its depravity.
But, I want to end on a more positive note. Turn please to Acts 26. Paul, speaking there to Agrippa, recounts Christ's words to him years before, on the Damascus road. Interesting words, and words on which Paul must have reflected many times. In Acts 26:18, God says that He was sending Paul to Israelite and Gentile alike—
Acts 26:18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.
That is the work of an Apostle, to turn people from Satan to God. And, to a lesser degree, it is our work now. And, it will be our work in the future.
Please turn to Isaiah 42, where I will close. Yes, this is indeed the work of Christ. God here describes Christ's work:
Isaiah 42:1 Behold My servant, whom I uphold, My chosen, in whom My soul delights; I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.
Skipping to verse 5, where the focus becomes God's people:
Isaiah 42:5-9 Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, [the pagans cannot see God in His creation] who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: "I am the LORD; I have called you; [God here addresses us] I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the LORD; that is My name; My glory I give to no other, nor My praise to carved idols. [No, not to maypoles.] Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; [the things of the World Tomorrow] before they spring forth I tell you of them."
We will someday teach millions of others, now concluded in darkness, of better ways, opening their eyes to see God. Let us all look forward to the time when the witches' sabbaths will be no more, but all will keep the Sabbath we observe today, in spirit and in truth.