Issue 106 is out now
Kate Hodges

By Kate Hodges

27th April 2022

Have a magical, witchy Beltane bank holiday, the UK's biggest free, all-natural music festival, and track your neighbourhood's wildlife. Plus grow a herb spiral and how to support your teenager's mental health.

Kate Hodges

By Kate Hodges

27th April 2022

Kate Hodges

By Kate Hodges

27th April 2022

EVENT, DO, MAKE BELTING BELTANE
Saturday is Beltane, or May Day. Hastings’ Jack in the Green Clun’s Green Man, Edinburgh’s Beltane Fire and Rochester’s Sweeps festivals are back and wilder than ever (find more events here), but this is an occasion perfect for celebrating at home. Step into your garden, or 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). Traditionally, fires were lit at this time of year; 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.
Over at our site, Danu Forest’s ideas for celebrating the festival include seeking out liminal places in the woods, feeling the wheel of the seasons turning towards summer and making morris bells to attract helpful fairies or find more of our suggestions for a belting Beltane here and how to make a beltane headband here. Alternatively make your own healing Beltane magic with hawthorn or ground ivy.

EVENT WITCHING HOURS
Fancy a darker celebration? Walpurgis Night is celebrated across northern Europe on the night of April 30 (Friday) 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!

EVENT TWITTER STORM
Enjoy nature’s biggest natural music festival this Sunday! The RSPB’s first-ever Dawn Chorus festival celebrates the bounteous birdsong that rings around our isles at this time of year. Taking part is as simple as opening a window, stepping into your garden or a park and making time to listen; find a guide to making the most of the performances here. In addition, there are events taking place and live online soundscapes from across the country.

EVENT TRACK AND TRACE

Running across the world for four days – the bank holiday weekend – the City Nature Challenge is an international race to discover and record as much wildlife as possible. Founded in the USA, the event is now global, with this year’s events covering over a dozen cities in the UK. Take part in organised hunts, or download an app to join in independently. There’s a resource kit, perfect for home ed here.

EVENT AND DO GREEN FINGERS
National Gardening Week, kicks off with National Gardening Day on Monday May 2. This year’s theme, ‘the joy of gardening’ makes the perfect excuse to share your love of growing plants. Join in with talks, workshops, demonstrations and planting activities at RHS gardens across the UK and explore their new community spaces or just use the celebrations as an excuse to spend some time with your family in your garden. Find more inspiration for family gardening including making a green roof or planting a herb spiral here, and find horticulturally inspired home ed ideas here.

WHAT WE’RE READING The transition into adolescence can be brutal for kids’ mental health – but parents can help reduce the risk: “Research into how young people develop emotional skills found that a parenting style which encourages understanding and acceptance of emotions is associated with better mental health wellbeing compared to styles which are dismissive, punitive or avoid emotional experiences.” Read more here

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