Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wordless Wednesday, almost: Bealtaine, a springtime celebration of optimism

Bealtaine is the Irish word for the month of May, and also the word used to denote the springtime celebrations and festivals that take place in Ireland on the first of May — Lá Bealtaine or May Day — and throughout the month of May. All around the world you will find many countries in which there are celebrations of May Day as the beginning of a new cycle of life.

According to historians, May has long been a time for celebrations of optimism in Ireland, going all the way back to the time of the ancient Celts. They would hold festivals with music and dancing, and build huge bonfires for purification and renewal. All this was done in praise of the natural world in order to optimistically welcome the planting season, and with it renewed hope for a successful future harvest.

With this in mind I was thinking about what it is that makes me feel optimistic, and which images might express that optimism. On this Lá Bealtaine (Law B-yel-teh-ne), in celebration of optimism, here are a few images which make me feel hopeful.

Shona Lá Bealtaine go léir!
Happy May Day to All!

On a morning flight travelling back from Ireland in 2011, the plane flew over Greenland, and the land was  perfectly visible in the light of the morning sun. I shot these images out of a small window in the front galley of the plane. The natural splendour of Greenland, and the colour from this perspective, was awe inspiring. Seeing it made me believe no matter what happens in the world, nature will prevail, and that makes me feel optimistic.

Observing people together, just having fun and enjoying life, sparks the light of optimism, whether it's family traipsing through St. Stephen's Green on the occasion of a wedding, or buskers on Grafton Street, football fans on the train from Mayo, or enthusiastic polo players in the Phoenix Park. All of these remind me that people are basically good, and want to enjoy life and make each other happy, and that definitely makes me feel optimistic.

Seeing the beauty of stained glass windows makes me feel optimistic. At times it seems as though there are some people who are only capable of wreaking havoc and causing ruination. However, the fact that others chose to skillfully apply their hand to crafting intricate pieces such as these, for the enjoyment of their fellowmen, just has to make you feel hopeful. These windows are from St. Mary's Church in Westport, County Mayo.

Looking over the grandeur of the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, with the ocean waves crashing at their base in perfect rhythm, reminds me of the fact that we humans are a small part of the whole picture. We have been given the privilege of living in this big and beautiful world, and that always makes me feel optimistic.

Being able to coax this exquisite bloom out of my hyacinth plant a couple of summers ago makes me feel optimistic, because of the possibility that it might just happen again.

What makes you feel optimistic?

Click on images to view larger versions.
To hear pronunciations of Bealtaine visit Forvo.


  1. You captured this so beautifully, Jennifer. The poetry of language, such as that in your post today, evokes an imagery of beauty and a lightness of being that makes me feel optimistic. The purity of birdsong outside my window at dawn, the dewdrops on the grass - even the breathless squeals of my daughter as she runs for the phone - these fill me with joy and make me feel optimistic. Life is good, and we are blessed.

    Thank you for offering us the welcome chance to reflect on these lovely things on this splendid May Day!

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments Linda.

      I love the things that make you feel optimistic, especially the image of your daughter running for the phone. It's one of those little moments that make life so very good. I hope you had a wonderful May Day!


  2. I'm on a very late lunch today Jenn, but wanted to stop by and visit. Glad I did what a beautiful post. Makes me very optimistic!!! Thanks.
    p.s getting a new boss makes me feel optimistic too.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment Charlotte.

      I hope your new boss shows you the appreciation you deserve.



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