The Prom as a Modern Pagan RiteThere's been this thought roaming around my brain that usually comes to fore every May. Perhaps last year was the first time I really began to crystallize the celebration of Beltane with a modern rite, though the thought had occurred to me somewhat fragmentally prior to May 2007. I had a good bit of time last year to contemplate the meaning of Beltane as I drove an hour from the weekend Sabbat festival I had been enjoying to a community college meeting room an hour away. The location had been the setting for Senior Prom 2007, and I, as a dutiful member of the school faculty, was charged with clean-up duty that began at midnight.
Now, leaving a Beltane gathering is never what one would want to do at 11:15 PM, so as one could imagine, I was measurably grumpy. It was during one of those dark stretches of road that a light went off in my head: this Senior Prom - this annual celebration rife with flowers, and dancing, and maidens was their Beltane. Let's consider this:
Prom generally occurs in early May annually.
The Prom is one big community dance.
Men and women alike wear flowers - corsages or boutonnieres
At the end of the evening, a Queen is crowned.
Sexuality is rampant, as the air is rife with fertility.
The similarities with Beltane:
Beltane is celebrated in early May (actually, Roman Floralia is celebrated between April 28 and May 3).
Beltane is a community festival with the traditional May-pole dance.
Flowers and greenery are an integral part of the celebration as Beltane is a celebration of the fertility of nature.
A young maiden is crowned May Queen.
With the theme of fertility, sexuality is a common aspect of Beltane.
Looking into the history of the prom, we find that Prom's links to Beltane aren't exactly linear or direct. Still, it bears consideration that there is a leftover piece of Pagan history that has fully infiltrated the public school arena and is celebrated by both young and old, religious and irreligious alike.
Having such a neat revelation made after-prom clean up a bit less tedious and bothersome - it was just a continuation of Beltane.