Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Staycation - celebrating the heritage of Britain

In these difficult times of recession when money is limited and we all need a break, a larger number of UK residents are opting for staycations otherwise known as homidays. These are new fangled terms for going on holiday in the UK mainland. Personally, I believe this opens a door to the wonderful heritage we have in this country and although being of Pakistani origin I have always thought of myself as 100% British.

My family are abroad whilst my wife displayed our latest addition to our family 8 month year old Leah, to her mother's parents in Pakistan. As a consequence whilst we had a surprising amount of good weather I decided to travel to Hastings for their world renowned May Day Beltane celebrations. For those of you unaware of the origins of this festival I will describe it in short...

Beltane is an old Celtic celebration on 1 May, a spring-time festival of optimism. A fertility ritual takes place, connecting with the waxing power of the sun.

Although there are a few people that truly believe the old Celtic religious themes surrounding the pagan festival, the vast majority of people attending the event are just out to have some fun.

The event was well attended and involved a street procession that ended in a drum, morris dancing and belly dancing event within the confines of Hastings Castle.  Entrance to the Castle event cost £3.00 for adults and £1.00 for children and was real value for money.  At the end of the stage performances there was a ceremonial slaying of the green man a wicker Christmas tree shaped costume with a crown.  The slaying of the   "Green Man" led to a distribution of the laurel leaves within the costume, that were said to bring good luck to the bearer and hence they were distributed to all who wanted some.  A worthwhile trip and I would encourage others to attend next year and learn about an old British custom...

I am putting on weight!

A rare smile from Wilson but it was a wonderful day out!

Flamboyant costumes were adorned by those in the procession

A samba band joined drummed heartily.

Young and old created a vibrant event.

Green was a predominant colour.

Giants do exist!

A real party atmosphere!

This cheeky man painted my nose green and those of many visitors.

friendly people everywhere...

Help I'm being am(bushed)!

The detail in the hat was extraordinary

Belly dancers served a treat!

They really got the crowd going.

Traditional Celtic dancing was delightful to watch.

Morris dancers my favourite!

Masses of people awaited the slaying of the "Green Man"

Morris Dancers circled the Green Man..

The crowd stood to watch the slaying.

Thousands turned up to watch a great spectacle.

The Green man was slain.

A great day out ended by an invite offered to some Morris dancers to come to Redbridge Carnival.  I felt it necessary to invite partakers of one of Britain's oldest traditions to our community event to prevent the loss of a great and rather fun heritage,

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