Beltane

Beltane

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Beltane or Beltaine is the anglicised spelling of Old Irish  Bel(l)taine or Beltine (modern Irish
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

 Bealtaine ˈbʲal̪ˠt̪ˠənʲə, Scottish Gaelic Bealltainn ˈbʲal̪ˠt̪ˠənʲ), the Gaelic
Goidelic languages
The Goidelic languages or Gaelic languages are one of the two branches of the Insular Celtic languages, the other consisting of the Brythonic languages. Goidelic languages historically formed a dialect continuum stretching from the south of Ireland through the Isle of Man to the north of Scotland...

 name for either the month of May
May
May is the fifth month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars and one of seven months with the length of 31 days.May is a month of autumn in the Southern Hemisphere and spring in the Northern Hemisphere...

 or the festival that takes place on the first day of May.

Bealtaine was historically a Gaelic
Gaels
The Gaels or Goidels are speakers of one of the Goidelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and subsequently spread to western and northern Scotland and the Isle of Man....

 festival celebrated in Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 and the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man , otherwise known simply as Mann , is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is...

.
Bealtaine and Samhain
Samhain
Samhain is a Gaelic harvest festival held on October 31–November 1. It was linked to festivals held around the same time in other Celtic cultures, and was popularised as the "Celtic New Year" from the late 19th century, following Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer...

 were the leading terminal dates of the civil year in medieval Ireland, though the latter festival was the more important. The festival regained popularity during the Celtic Revival
Celtic Revival
Celtic Revival covers a variety of movements and trends, mostly in the 19th and 20th centuries, which drew on the traditions of Celtic literature and Celtic art, or in fact more often what art historians call Insular art...

 and remains observed in the Celtic Nations
Celtic nations
The Celtic nations are territories in North-West Europe in which that area's own Celtic languages and some cultural traits have survived.The term "nation" is used in its original sense to mean a people who share a common traditional identity and culture and are identified with a traditional...

 and the Irish diaspora
Irish diaspora
thumb|Night Train with Reaper by London Irish artist [[Brian Whelan]] from the book Myth of Return, 2007The Irish diaspora consists of Irish emigrants and their descendants in countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa,...

.

In Irish Gaelic
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

, the month of May is known as Mí Bhealtaine or Bealtaine, and the festival as Lá Bealtaine ('day of Bealtaine' or, 'May Day'). In Scottish Gaelic, the month is known as either (An) Cèitean or a' Mhàigh, and the festival is known as Latha Bealltainn or simply Bealltainn. The feast was also known as Céad Shamhain or Cétshamhainin from which the word Céitean derives. Beltane was formerly spelled 'Bealtuinn' in Scottish Gaelic; in Manx it is spelt 'Boaltinn' or 'Boaldyn'. In Modern Irish, Oidhche Bealtaine or Oíche Bealtaine is May Eve, and Lá Bealtaine is May Day. Mí na Bealtaine, or simply Bealtaine is the name of the month of May.

In Neopaganism
Neopaganism
Neopaganism is an umbrella term used to identify a wide variety of modern religious movements, particularly those influenced by or claiming to be derived from the various pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe...

, Bealtaine is considered a cross-quarter day, marking the midpoint in the Sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

's progress between the spring equinox and summer solstice
Solstice
A solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice each year when the Sun's apparent position in the sky, as viewed from Earth, reaches its northernmost or southernmost extremes...

. The astronomical
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 date for this midpoint is closer to 5 May or 7 May, but this can vary from year to year.

Celtic period


According to Nora Chadwick, in Celtic Ireland "Beltine (or Beltaine) was celebrated on 1 May, a spring-time festival of optimism. Fertility ritual again was important, in part perhaps connecting with the waxing power of the sun, symbolized by the lighting of fires through which livestock were driven, and around which the people danced in a sunwise direction"

In Irish mythology
Irish mythology
The mythology of pre-Christian Ireland did not entirely survive the conversion to Christianity, but much of it was preserved, shorn of its religious meanings, in medieval Irish literature, which represents the most extensive and best preserved of all the branch and the Historical Cycle. There are...

, the beginning of the summer season for the Tuatha Dé Danann
Tuatha Dé Danann
The Tuatha Dé Danann are a race of people in Irish mythology. In the invasions tradition which begins with the Lebor Gabála Érenn, they are the fifth group to settle Ireland, conquering the island from the Fir Bolg....

 and the Milesians
Milesians (Irish)
Milesians are a people figuring in Irish mythology. The descendants of Míl Espáine, they were the final inhabitants of Ireland, and were believed to represent the Goidelic Celts.-Myth:...

 started at Bealtaine. Great bonfires would mark a time of purification and transition, heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year, and were accompanied with ritual acts to protect the people from any harm by Otherworldly
Other World
The Otherworld is a concept in Celtic mythology, referring to a realm of the dead, the home of the deities or spirits....

 spirits, such as the Aos Sí
Aos Sí
The aos sí are a supernatural race in Irish mythology and Scottish mythology are comparable to the fairies or elves. They are said to live underground in the fairy mounds, across the western sea, or in an invisible world that coexists with the world of humans...

. Like the festival of Samhain
Samhain
Samhain is a Gaelic harvest festival held on October 31–November 1. It was linked to festivals held around the same time in other Celtic cultures, and was popularised as the "Celtic New Year" from the late 19th century, following Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer...

, opposite Beltane on 31 October Beltane was also a time when the Otherworld was seen as particularly close at hand. Excavations at Uisnech in the 20th century provided evidence of large fires taking place.

Medieval period


In medieval Ireland
Medieval Ireland
Ireland in the Middle Ages:*Early Medieval Ireland: History of Ireland *Norman Ireland...

, the main Bealtaine fire was held on the central hill of Uisneach 'the navel of Ireland', one of the ritual centres of the country, which is located in what is now County Westmeath
County Westmeath
-Economy:Westmeath has a strong agricultural economy. Initially, development occurred around the major market centres of Mullingar, Moate, and Kinnegad. Athlone developed due to its military significance, and its strategic location on the main Dublin–Galway route across the River Shannon. Mullingar...

.
The lighting of bonfires on Oidhche Bhealtaine seems to have survived to the present day only in County Limerick
County Limerick
It is thought that humans had established themselves in the Lough Gur area of the county as early as 3000 BC, while megalithic remains found at Duntryleague date back further to 3500 BC...

, especially in Limerick
Limerick
Limerick is the third largest city in the Republic of Ireland, and the principal city of County Limerick and Ireland's Mid-West Region. It is the fifth most populous city in all of Ireland. When taking the extra-municipal suburbs into account, Limerick is the third largest conurbation in the...

 itself, as their yearly bonfire night and in County Wicklow
County Wicklow
County Wicklow is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Wicklow, which derives from the Old Norse name Víkingalág or Wykynlo. Wicklow County Council is the local authority for the county...

 in Arklow
Arklow
Arklow , also known as Inbhear Dé from the Avonmore river's older name Abhainn Dé, is a historic town located in County Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland. Founded by the Vikings in the ninth century, Arklow was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the 1798 rebellion...

, though some cultural groups have expressed an interest in reviving the custom at Uisneach and perhaps at the Hill of Tara
Hill of Tara
The Hill of Tara , located near the River Boyne, is an archaeological complex that runs between Navan and Dunshaughlin in County Meath, Leinster, Ireland...

.

Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season when the herds of livestock were driven out to the summer pastures and mountain grazing lands. Due to the change from the Julian calendar
Julian calendar
The Julian calendar began in 45 BC as a reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar. It was chosen after consultation with the astronomer Sosigenes of Alexandria and was probably designed to approximate the tropical year .The Julian calendar has a regular year of 365 days divided into 12 months...

 to the Gregorian calendar
Gregorian calendar
The Gregorian calendar, also known as the Western calendar, or Christian calendar, is the internationally accepted civil calendar. It was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII, after whom the calendar was named, by a decree signed on 24 February 1582, a papal bull known by its opening words Inter...

, Bealltainn in Scotland was commonly celebrated on 15 May while in Ireland Sean Bhealtain / "Old May" began about the night of 11 May. The lighting of bonfire
Bonfire
A bonfire is a controlled outdoor fire used for informal disposal of burnable waste material or as part of a celebration. Celebratory bonfires are typically designed to burn quickly and may be very large...

s on Oidhche Bhealtaine ('the eve of Bealtaine) on mountains and hills of ritual and political significance was one of the main activities of the festival. In modern Scottish Gaelic, Latha Buidhe Bealltainn or Là Buidhe Bealltainn ('the yellow day of Bealltain') is used to describe the first day of May. This term Lá Buidhe Bealtaine is also used in Irish and is translated as 'Bright May Day'. In Ireland it is referred to in a common folk tale as Luan Lae Bealtaine; the first day of the week (Monday/Luan) is added to emphasise the first day of summer.

Modern period


Edward Dwelly
Edward Dwelly
Edward Dwelly was a Scottish Gaelic lexicographer. He is generally believed to have created the authoritative dictionary in that language, and his work, although arguably never bettered in Scotland has been an immense influence on Irish lexicography....

 in Bealltuinn (1911) describes a 1 May custom of his day, practised in the Scottish Highlands
Scottish Highlands
The Highlands is an historic region of Scotland. The area is sometimes referred to as the "Scottish Highlands". It was culturally distinguishable from the Lowlands from the later Middle Ages into the modern period, when Lowland Scots replaced Scottish Gaelic throughout most of the Lowlands...

, where young people met on the moors, lighted a bonfire and made an oatmeal cake toasted at the embers. The cake was divided, one of the pieces marked with charcoal, and, drawing the pieces blindfolded, the person who got the marked piece was compelled to leap over the flames three times.

In Gaelic folkore, the village's cattle were driven between two fires to purify them and bring luck (Eadar dà theine Bhealltainn in Scottish Gaelic, 'Between two fires of Beltane'). This term is also found in Irish and is used as a turn of phrase to describe a situation which is difficult to escape from. In Scotland, boughs of juniper
Juniper
Junipers are coniferous plants in the genus Juniperus of the cypress family Cupressaceae. Depending on taxonomic viewpoint, there are between 50-67 species of juniper, widely distributed throughout the northern hemisphere, from the Arctic, south to tropical Africa in the Old World, and to the...

 were sometimes thrown on the fires to add an additional element of purification and blessing to the smoke. People would also pass between the two fires to purify themselves.

Another common aspect of the festival in the early 20th century in Ireland was the hanging of May Boughs on the doors and windows of houses and the erection of May Bushes in farmyards, which usually consisted either of a branch of rowan
Rowan
The rowans or mountain-ashes are shrubs or small trees in genus Sorbus of family Rosaceae. They are native throughout the cool temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with the highest species diversity in the mountains of western China and the Himalaya, where numerous apomictic microspecies...

/caorthann (mountain ash) or more commonly whitethorn
Common Hawthorn
Crataegus monogyna, known as common hawthorn or single-seeded hawthorn, is a species of hawthorn native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia. It has been introduced in many other parts of the world where it is an invasive weed...

/sceach geal (hawthorn) which is in bloom at the time and is commonly called the 'May Bush' or just 'May' in both Ireland and Britain. Furze/aiteann was also used for the May Boughs, May Bushes and as fuel for the bonfire. The practice of decorating the May Bush or Dos Bhealtaine with flowers, ribbons, garlands and coloured egg shells exists to some extent among the Gaelic diaspora, most notably in Newfoundland, and in some Easter traditions observed on the East Coast of the United States
East Coast of the United States
The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, refers to the easternmost coastal states in the United States, which touch the Atlantic Ocean and stretch up to Canada. The term includes the U.S...

.

The festival persisted widely up until the 1950s, and in some places the celebration of Beltane continues today. The town of Peebles
Peebles
Peebles is a burgh in the committee area of Tweeddale, in the Scottish Borders, lying on the River Tweed. According to the 2001 Census, the population was 8,159.-History:...

 in the Scottish Borders
Scottish Borders
The Scottish Borders is one of 32 local government council areas of Scotland. It is bordered by Dumfries and Galloway in the west, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian in the north west, City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian to the north; and the non-metropolitan counties of Northumberland...

 holds a traditional week-long event known as the Beltane Fair every year in June, when a local girl is crowned Beltane Queen on the steps of the parish church. Like other Borders festivals, it incorporates a Common Riding
Common Riding
Common Riding is an annual event celebrated in Scottish Border towns and in some other places, to commemorate the times of the past when local men risked their lives in order to protect their town and people.- Hawick :...

.

Brythonic culture


In Brythonic culture, i.e. in Wales
Culture of Wales
Wales has a distinctive culture including its own language, customs, holidays and music.Wales is primarily represented by the symbol of the red Welsh Dragon, but other national emblems include the leek and daffodil. The Welsh words for leeks and daffodils Wales has a distinctive culture including...

, Brittany
Culture of Brittany
The Culture of Brittany is made up of a mixture of French and Breton culture, and celtic culture. Within France, Breton culture is closest regionally to those of Normandy, Aquitaine, and Gascony...

, and Cornwall
Cornish people
The Cornish are a people associated with Cornwall, a county and Duchy in the south-west of the United Kingdom that is seen in some respects as distinct from England, having more in common with the other Celtic parts of the United Kingdom such as Wales, as well as with other Celtic nations in Europe...

, there are festivals similar to it at the same time of year such as the Padstow 'obby 'oss.
In Wales, the day is known as Calan Mai
Calan Mai
In Wales, May 1 is a holiday known as Calan Mai or Calan Haf, which means the first day of summer. Celebrations start on the evening before, known as May Eve, with bonfires; as with Calan Gaeaf, the night before is an Ysbrydnos, or "spirit night," when spirits are out and about and divination is...

.

Etymology


Since the early 20th century it has been commonly accepted that Old Irish Bel(l)taine is derived from a Common Celtic *belo-te(f)net-, meaning "bright fire" (where the element *belo- might be cognate with the English word bale [as in 'bale-fire'] meaning 'white' or 'shining'; compare Anglo-Saxon bael, and Lithuanian
Lithuanian language
Lithuanian is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 170,000 abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they...

/Latvian
Latvian language
Latvian is the official state language of Latvia. It is also sometimes referred to as Lettish. There are about 1.4 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and about 150,000 abroad. The Latvian language has a relatively large number of non-native speakers, atypical for a small language...

 baltas/balts, found in the name of the Baltic
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

; in Slavic languages
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

 byelo or beloye also means 'white', as in Беларусь (White Russia or Belarus) or Бе́лое мо́ре [White Sea]). A more recent etymology by Xavier Delamarre would derive it from a Common Celtic *Beltinijā, cognate with the name of the Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

n goddess of death Giltinė, the root of both being Proto-Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 *gʷelH- "suffering, death".

According to Dáithí Ó hÓgáin, the term Céad Shamhain or Cétshamhainin means "first half", which he links to the Gaulish word samonios (which he suggests means "half a year") as in the end of the "first half" of the year that begins at Samhain
Samhain
Samhain is a Gaelic harvest festival held on October 31–November 1. It was linked to festivals held around the same time in other Celtic cultures, and was popularised as the "Celtic New Year" from the late 19th century, following Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer...

. Ó hÓgáin proposes that this term was also used in Scottish Gaelic and Welsh.
In Ó Duinnín's Irish dictionary it is referred to as Céadamh(ain) which it explains is short for Céad-shamh(ain) meaning "first (of) summer". The dictionary also states that Dia Céadamhan is May Day and Mí Céadamhan is May.

Toponymy


Place names in Ireland that contain remnants of the word 'Bealtaine' include a number of places called 'Beltany' – indicating places where Bealtaine festivities were once held. There are three Beltanys in County Donegal
County Donegal
County Donegal is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Border Region and is also located in the province of Ulster. It is named after the town of Donegal. Donegal County Council is the local authority for the county...

 – one near Raphoe
Raphoe
Raphoe is a town in County Donegal, part of the province of Ulster in Ireland. It is the main town in the fertile district of East Donegal known as the Laggan, as well as giving its name to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Raphoe and the Church of Ireland Diocese of Derry and Raphoe.-Name:Raphoe,...

 – another near Killybegs [Bealtine Bridge} and the third in the parish of Tulloghobegly. Two others are located in County Tyrone
County Tyrone
Historically Tyrone stretched as far north as Lough Foyle, and comprised part of modern day County Londonderry east of the River Foyle. The majority of County Londonderry was carved out of Tyrone between 1610-1620 when that land went to the Guilds of London to set up profit making schemes based on...

, one near Clogher
Clogher
Clogher is a village in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It lies on the River Blackwater, south of Omagh. The United Kingdom Census of 2001 recorded a population of 309.-History:...

 and the other in the parish of Cappagh. In the parish of Kilmore, County Armagh
County Armagh
-History:Ancient Armagh was the territory of the Ulaid before the fourth century AD. It was ruled by the Red Branch, whose capital was Emain Macha near Armagh. The site, and subsequently the city, were named after the goddess Macha...

, there is a place called Tamnaghvelton/Tamhnach Bhealtaine ('field of the Bealtaine festivities'). Lisbalting/Lios Bealtaine ('fort or enclosure of Bealtaine') is located in Kilcash Parish, County Tipperary. Glasheennabaultina ('the Bealtaine stream') is the name of a stream joining the River Galey near Athea, County Limerick
County Limerick
It is thought that humans had established themselves in the Lough Gur area of the county as early as 3000 BC, while megalithic remains found at Duntryleague date back further to 3500 BC...

.

Edinburgh festival



A revived Beltane Fire Festival
Beltane Fire Festival
Beltane Fire Festival is an annual participatory arts event and ritual drama, held on April 30 on Calton Hill in Edinburgh.-Historical background:...

 has been held every year since 1988 during the night of 30 April on Calton Hill
Calton Hill, Edinburgh
Calton Hill is a hill in central Edinburgh, Scotland, just to the east of the New Town. Views of, and from, the hill are often used in photographs and paintings of the city....

 in Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

, Scotland and attended by up to 15,000 people (except in 2003 when local council restrictions forced the organisers to hold a private event elsewhere).

Gaelic diaspora


The lighting of a community Bealtaine fire from which individual hearth fires are then relit is observed in modern times in some parts of the Gaelic diaspora, though in the majority of these cases this practice is a cultural revival rather than an unbroken survival of the ancient tradition.

Neo-Paganism


Beltane is observed by Neopagans
Neopaganism
Neopaganism is an umbrella term used to identify a wide variety of modern religious movements, particularly those influenced by or claiming to be derived from the various pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe...

 in various forms, and by a variety of names. As forms of Neopaganism can vary largely from tradition to tradition, representations can vary considerably despite the shared name. Some celebrate in a manner as close as possible to how the Ancient Celts and Living Celtic cultures have maintained the traditions, while others observe the holiday with rituals taken from numerous other unrelated sources, Celtic culture being only one of the sources used.

Celtic Reconstructionist


Like other Reconstructionist
Polytheistic reconstructionism
Polytheistic reconstructionism is an approach to Neopaganism first emerging in the late 1960s to early 1970s, and gathering momentum in the 1990s to 2000s...

 traditions, Celtic Reconstructionist Pagans
Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism
Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism is a polytheistic, animistic, religious and cultural movement...

 place emphasis on historical accuracy. They base their celebrations and rituals on traditional lore from the living Celtic cultures, as well as research into the older beliefs of the polytheistic
Celtic polytheism
Celtic polytheism, commonly known as Celtic paganism, refers to the religious beliefs and practices adhered to by the Iron Age peoples of Western Europe now known as the Celts, roughly between 500 BCE and 500 CE, spanning the La Tène period and the Roman era, and in the case of the Insular Celts...

 Celts.

Celtic Reconstructionists usually celebrate Lá Bealtaine when the local hawthorn
Common Hawthorn
Crataegus monogyna, known as common hawthorn or single-seeded hawthorn, is a species of hawthorn native to Europe, northwest Africa and western Asia. It has been introduced in many other parts of the world where it is an invasive weed...

 trees are in bloom, or on the full moon that falls closest to this event. Many observe the traditional bonfire rites, to whatever extent this is feasible where they live, including the dousing of the household hearth flame and relighting of it from the community festival fire. Some decorate May Bushes and prepare traditional festival foods. Pilgrimages to holy wells
Clootie well
Clootie wells are places of pilgrimage in Celtic areas. They are wells or springs, almost always with a tree growing beside them, where strips of cloth or rags have been left, usually tied to the branches of the tree as part of a healing ritual...

 are traditional at this time, and offerings and prayers to the spirits or deities of the wells are usually part of this practice. Crafts such as the making of equal-armed rowan
Rowan
The rowans or mountain-ashes are shrubs or small trees in genus Sorbus of family Rosaceae. They are native throughout the cool temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with the highest species diversity in the mountains of western China and the Himalaya, where numerous apomictic microspecies...

 crosses are common, and often part of rituals performed for the blessing and protection of the household and land.

Wicca



Wicca
Wicca
Wicca , is a modern Pagan religious movement. Developing in England in the first half of the 20th century, Wicca was popularised in the 1950s and early 1960s by a Wiccan High Priest named Gerald Gardner, who at the time called it the "witch cult" and "witchcraft," and its adherents "the Wica."...

ns and Wiccan-inspired Neopagans
Neopaganism
Neopaganism is an umbrella term used to identify a wide variety of modern religious movements, particularly those influenced by or claiming to be derived from the various pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe...

 celebrate a variation of Beltane as a Sabbat
Wheel of the Year
The Wheel of the Year is a Neopagan term for the annual cycle of the Earth's seasons. It consists of eight festivals, spaced at approximately even intervals throughout the year. These festivals are referred to as Sabbats...

, one of the eight solar holidays. Although the holiday may use features of the Gaelic Bealtaine, such as the bonfire
Bonfire
A bonfire is a controlled outdoor fire used for informal disposal of burnable waste material or as part of a celebration. Celebratory bonfires are typically designed to burn quickly and may be very large...

, it bears more relation to the Germanic May Day festival, both in its significance (focusing on fertility) and its rituals (such as maypole
Maypole
A maypole is a tall wooden pole erected as a part of various European folk festivals, particularly on May Day, or Pentecost although in some countries it is instead erected at Midsummer...

 dancing). Some Wiccans celebrate "High Beltaine" by enacting a ritual union of the May Lord
Horned God
The Horned God is one of the two primary deities found in some European pagan religions. He is often given various names and epithets, and represents the male part of the religion's duotheistic theological system, the other part being the female Triple Goddess. In common Wiccan belief, he is...

 and May Lady.

Among the Wiccan Sabbats, Beltane is a cross-quarter day; it is celebrated in the northern hemisphere on 1 May and in the southern hemisphere on 1 November. Beltane follows Ostara and precedes Midsummer
Midsummer
Midsummer may simply refer to the period of time centered upon the summer solstice, but more often refers to specific European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice, or that take place on a day between June 21 and June 24, and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary between different...

.

See also


Calendars
  • Celtic calendar
    Celtic calendar
    The Celtic calendar is a compilation of pre-Christian Celtic systems of timekeeping, including the Gaulish Coligny calendar, used by Celtic countries to define the beginning and length of the day, the week, the month, the seasons, quarter days, and festivals....

  • Coligny calendar
    Coligny calendar
    The Gaulish Coligny calendar was found in Coligny, Ain, France near Lyon in 1897, along with the head of a bronze statue of a youthful male figure. It is a lunisolar calendar...

  • Irish calendar
    Irish calendar
    The Irish calendar is a pre-Christian Celtic system of timekeeping used during Ireland's Gaelic era and still in popular use today to define the beginning and length of the day, the week, the month, the seasons, quarter days, and festivals...

  • Wheel of the year
    Wheel of the Year
    The Wheel of the Year is a Neopagan term for the annual cycle of the Earth's seasons. It consists of eight festivals, spaced at approximately even intervals throughout the year. These festivals are referred to as Sabbats...



Holidays
  • Lughnasadh
    Lughnasadh
    Lughnasadh is a traditional Gaelic holiday celebrated on 1 August. It is in origin a harvest festival, corresponding to the Welsh Calan Awst and the English Lammas.-Name:...

  • Samhain
    Samhain
    Samhain is a Gaelic harvest festival held on October 31–November 1. It was linked to festivals held around the same time in other Celtic cultures, and was popularised as the "Celtic New Year" from the late 19th century, following Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer...

  • Imbolc
    Imbolc
    Imbolc , or St Brigid’s Day , is an Irish festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is celebrated on 1 or 2 February in the northern hemisphere and 1 August in the southern hemisphere...


Other
  • Beltane Fire Festival
    Beltane Fire Festival
    Beltane Fire Festival is an annual participatory arts event and ritual drama, held on April 30 on Calton Hill in Edinburgh.-Historical background:...

  • Walpurgis Night
    Walpurgis Night
    Walpurgis Night is a traditional spring festival on 30 April or 1 May in large parts of Central and Northern Europe. It is often celebrated with dancing and with bonfires. It is exactly six months from All Hallows' Eve.-Name:...

  • Welsh Holidays
    Welsh Holidays
    These are the main holidays traditionally celebrated in Wales that are not shared with the rest of the United Kingdom. Except for those that fall at the same time as UK public holidays , none of these holidays are bank holidays...



Further reading

  • Carmichael, Alexander (1992). Carmina Gadelica
    Carmina Gadelica
    The Carmina Gadelica is a collection of prayers, hymns, charms, incantations, blessings, runes, and other literary-folkloric poems and songs collected and translated by amateur folklorist Alexander Carmichael in the Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland between 1855 and 1910...

    . Lindisfarne Press. ISBN 0-940262-50-9
  • Chadwick, Nora (1970) The Celts. London, Penguin ISBN 0-14-021211-6
  • Danaher, Kevin
    Kevin Danaher
    Kevin Danaher was a prominent Irish folklorist with a special interest in ethnography and military history....

     (1972) The Year in Ireland. Dublin, Mercier ISBN 1-85635-093-2
  • Evans-Wentz, W. Y. (1966, 1990) The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries. New York, Citadel ISBN 0-8065-1160-5
  • MacKillop, James (1998). Dictionary of Celtic Mythology. Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-280120-1
  • McNeill, F. Marian
    F. Marian McNeill
    F. Marian McNeill was born in 1885 at Holm in Orkney where her father was the minister of the Free Presbyterian Kirk. She was a Scottish folklorist, best known for writing The Silver Bough , a four-volume set of Scottish folklore, considered essential by many in the field.She is also known as the...

     (1959) The Silver Bough, Vol. 1-4. William MacLellan, Glasgow
  • Simpson, Eve Blantyre
    Eve Blantyre Simpson
    Eve Blantyre Simpson was the daughter of Professor James Young Simpson, who popularised the use of chloroform as an anaesthetic. She wrote biographies of her father and of Robert Louis Stevenson. She also wrote a notable book on folk-lore in Scotland which refers to the early traditions such as...

     (1908), Folk lore in lowland Scotland, London: J.M. Dent.

External links