Every May 26th in the Common Era, a little known celebration is held in honor of nature and the very fabric of the universe itself, from which all life sprung. Very little is known about this holiday, which we came across while doing some research on another subject several years ago. We think that you may find what follows very fascinating, and we hope you will join us in the modern day observance of this very ancient festival.
Ever since mankind learned to reason, we have been trying to understand the mysteries and the nature of the universe. In the past, we often explained the unexplainable in terms of mysterious, unseen beings such as Gods, Dragons, Faeries, and the like. As we have advanced, we have found more scientific reasons for why the universe is the way it is. Cosmos Day came about not from trying to explain the nature of the universe, but to honor it's life-giving properties, as we would give praise to a life-saving drug. The first accounts of a festival being held comes from oral histories in the Mesopotamian Era, although there are some historians who believe that some of the earliest records date back to the ancient Maya. It could very well be that similar celebrations came about in two isolated areas, as the use of a symbol for zero did. Most of what we found comes from the European festival. Not much is known about the festival prior to written history, but some early written accounts alluding to such a celebration lead historians to believe it is one of the oldest surviving festivals still held today. It may be that Cosmos Day was a celebration of the Spring season and was held early in our calendar year, probably sometime after the first thaw appeared, which of course would mean that different communities would hold the festival at a different time during the year, depending on when the weather changed. More detailed accounts come from the Roman period, as several records detail celebrations in England, Ireland, and many of the territories of the main continent. Cosmos Day was just one of many pagan festivals in the Empire, and didn't really stand out until the time of Octavian, who was believed to have been involved with one of the sects of Druids who celebrated the festival in Rome. Cosmos Day gained in popularity, but not in significance, after Octavian's rule, but quickly "died" out after Rome became Christianized under Charlemagne. During the church's conversion and persecution of all things pagan, the Cosmic movement went underground, with individual sects of Druids keeping the faith, and the festival alive. So determined were they to preserve the celebration, that the movement became a secret society, leading the Christian church to believe the movement to have ended, which saved the festival from being Christianized as many other pagan celebrations had become. Even after the fall of Rome, and throughout the the Dark Ages, most of what is known of the festival, and the Druids who celebrated it, is scanty as the fear of persecution was always there. Although popularity in the holiday increased again during the Renaissance, it still remained a Druidic celebration, so was always overshadowed by the more mainstream faiths of the time. It is only through the perseverance of its Druidic followers that the holiday that is Cosmos Day still survives. It more or less has a harmless cult following now, although several "celebration groups" have sprung up on colleges and universities across the US. Throughout it's known history, Cosmos Day has been a celebraton of life. Like many pagan festivals, the celebration was held at night by it's followers, usually in a wooded area, and oftentimes a sacrifice was made. The only sacrifice for Cosmos Day was that of material wealth as those who participated in the festival would build a single bonfire out of personal possessions. Around this fire the followers would gather in a circle, and chant praises of the life that surrounded them -- the trees, earth, air, and the heavens. They didn't honor any gods or goddesses specifically, but believed that each and every living thing, whether possessing intelligence or not, had special significance and mystical powers. Followers would often carry around a piece of plant or animal that they believed to be their "Cosmic counterpart" -- similar to the spirit guides of Native American belief. Carrying around a part of this guide was believed to bring good fortune, and more than likely began the belief of the lucky rabbit's foot. During the festival, after the ritual chants around the bonfire by the group, each individual would pray over their icon for several hours. During the deepest part of the night, usually around the hours of 2 or 3, the group would regather for a meal, consisting mostly of plant foods, though some meat was consumed by various sects around Europe. The meal would be followed by an attempt to communicate with those who had passed on. This was usually done with the aid of some plant known to "open one's thoughts to the spirit world;" plants we now know to have hallucinatory properties. This was done because it was believed the spirits would be able to impart some knowledge that would aid the participant in the living world -- either with a current problem or to warn them of a future danger, and such. Afterwards, those members of the group who choose to be alone to communicate with the spirits would return, and then the group would leave the forest to watch the dawn of the new season; again giving thanks, and praying as the sun rose. Like many ancient legends and holidays, some unusual traditions have sprung up for Cosmos Day. One of the first major changes to Cosmos Day was the decision to celebrate it on a pre-determined date, as opposed to the many variations due to the particular thaw times in areas of Europe. May 26th was decided upon by the Chief Druid Belmar around the year AD 1021, at a meeting of many of the European Chiefs at Auxerre. This date was decided upon due to the fact that apparently, several years previous to the meeting, a "falling star" had impacted near to Belmar's camp on that day, while he was praying, and he took it as a divine sign from the heavens that the festival should be universally held on the 26th of May. This also gave rise to the practice of digging holes on Cosmos Day, in which would be placed a single stone, and a prayer to the heavens made. A more recent practice, which dates back to the late 1700's had one sect of Druids traveling around the countryside of Ireland and chanting "Argh! The Cosmos!" any time they encountered a tree stump or animal carcass. Many historians discount this legend though, believing it to be a modern fairy tale, upheld only by a few in today's world. The most unusual legend, and one that is unsubstantiated yet continues to thrive, is that any one born on February 29th will turn into an apricot at the stroke of midnight on Cosmos Day and remain in that form until the next stroke of midnight. This may have its roots in a sect of Druids dating back to the 1300's, who preferred to pray to apricot trees imported from Asia. This also gave birth to the rumor that they were the first to chant "Argh! The Cosmos!" when encountering a fallen apricot. It could be that this rumor arose when these druids came across a discarded apricot in a town or city, causing any witnesses to believe they were reacting to the transformation of a friend. Again, this may be a complete myth, but one that tends to be popular with the college crowd, and there have been many a time that someone who had the chance to have that rare day of birth on the 29th of February would wake up to find an apricot or two on their bedsheets.
We hope that this has brought a bit of understanding to a little known holiday, and would like everyone to join us in a hardy "Argh! The Cosmos!" every time May 26th rolls around.