By Anne-Marie Dossett, Publishing Tutor
On Friday 1st May at Ruskin Mill College we celebrated May Day in a very different way. This year the corona virus has affected many areas of all our lives and we can no longer gather together in groups. Despite this we still wanted to celebrate this special time, so with social distancing measures and a bit of creative thinking the college staff came up with a plan.
May Day is a festival that has roots stretching back to medieval Europe, and is also celebrated as the Celtic and Pagan festival known as Beltane. Traditions often include the gathering of flowers and green branches, the weaving of floral garlands and setting up a Maypole or May tree around which people dance and weave colourful ribbons.
Tutors Rich Turley and Samantha Courtney created a space for the celebrations by the natural spring near the woodland kitchen. Each small group of students had a time slot to visit this place with their tutor and support staff. There was plenty of room to ensure that the two metres social distancing measures could be adhered to. Each session had been sent an art pack which included beautiful hand-made paper and a leaf stencil. The students were invited to cut out a leaf and add words or pictures. This could be a wish for the future, a message of hope or something that celebrates this time of year. The students were asked to bring their leaf to the spring to tie on to a tree.
On their leaves Elliot and Kim wrote “Spring is Nature’s way of saying let’s party!” Conrad wrote “Go away corona virus” Luke wrote “Hope” he also placed a copper heart made in the forge into the spring. Deb wrote a special message for Jane, the support worker that recently passed away “For Jane – to a lovely kind lady you will be missed always”.
Students and staff were asked to bring flowers and leaves and other natural things to help create a beautiful mandala on the ground. A fire beacon was lit and many people had fun throwing logs into it. This was a brilliant game, like trying to score a goal in netball or basketball. One of the students, Sam said “I really enjoyed it, as I helped get the wood for the fire and helped to set up the beacon.”
After each student visited the spring they were given a branch of apple blossom as a symbol of the growing season. Then everyone was given the choice of organic chocolate, strawberry or vanilla ice-cream.
The day before the celebrations the cows were let out into the field after their long winter in the barn. It was wonderful to see them outside in glorious sunshine with lush green grass.