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Celebrating Beltane – May 1st

Beltane is known as the ‘festival of fire’ and is Gaelic in origin. Traditionally Beltane falls exactly between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, most commonly on May 1st every year. Historically, the festival was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland the Isle of Man. More latterly, it has been celebrated more widely by all those who follow traditional seasons and the cycles of the Moon. It is one of four seasonal Gaelic festivals, together with Samhain, (1st November), Imbolc, (1st February) and Lughnasadh, (1st August).

Beltane is also known as the ‘first of summer’ and was used to mark the day that farmers took cattle out to summer pastures, (often on higher land) and was celebrated with village or community gatherings around large bonfires. Children wove Beltane baskets to carry eggs and other wild produce to the feast that accompanied the fires. It was also traditional to re-light the home fires with a branch removed from the main Beltane bonfires. This custom was thought to bring good fortune and protection into the home.

If you have an open fire or wood burner, then you can enter into the traditions of Beltane in this manner. If you don’t have an open fire indoors, then it’s still an ideal opportunity to gather with friends for an outdoor bonfire or BBQ and take some time to commune with nature and take note of the resurgence of plants and flowers all around you. If you want to bring the colours and scents of Beltane indoors, then the traditional colours for flowers and foliage were yellow, white and green.

The ancient celebration of Beltane has become merged with Christian celebrations of May Day, and gatherings to dance around the Maypole, dress up and give thanks for the end of winter are modern day versions of the far older festival.

How to celebrate Beltane at home

The main thing with any celebration is to give thanks. Whether it’s a children’s birthday party or Beltane, we’re essentially giving thanks for the completion of another anniversary and looking forward to more good times in the future. Here are some ideas which blend traditional Beltane activities, with modern living:

1. Create an altar

Use a small table or side-board to make your own Beltane altar and decorate it with seasonal flowers and foliage. Beltane celebrates fertility, rebirth and awakening, so maybe some eggs you have dyed or painted would fit well.

  • Flowers — We realise that not everyone has access to wild or fresh flowrs, you can use pictures instead or even silk flowers.

  • Candles — Symbolising the Beltane fires, smaller candles will provide a focus for prayer or meditation. Use pure while candles, or some in spring colours or scented with spring fragrances.

  • Colours — Green is perfect to use as a base colour and you can add flashes of red and gold to represent fire. White represents purity and renewal.

  • Symbols — The traditional Maypole is associated with Beltane and can be represented by a drawing or picture or even a mini version.

2. Have a Bonfire

As we mentioned, Beltane is ‘the’ fire festival – so if you have a safe space to do so, get together with friends and family to have a night-time celebration. Gather wood and kindling, (even if it’s just from a local store), to create your fire. You could also use a fire pit, outdoor grill or stove and use it as an opportunity for outdoor food.

3. Pick (or buy) Flowers

By Beltane, you’ll either be surrounded by the blossoms of spring in the Northern Hemisphere or the rich colours of autumn in the South. Use whatever is bountiful locally to decorate your home – if you can get them, hawthorn, roses or rowan all have links to the much earlier rituals associated with Beltane. Remember to give thanks to Mother Nature for her blessings and bounty.

4. Make a Flower Crown or Garland

Take time to pick and weave hedgerow flowers or plants into a garland or wreath to put in your hair. This symbolises your connection with nature and your own inner power, fertility and abundance.

5. Wear Green

It is a time to celebrate the renewal of life and the coming fertility of summer. The colour green represents growth and birth. Wear green to reinforce the intention of bringing growth and fertility into our lives.

6. Hold a Goddess Ritual

You can celebrate Beltane by performing a goddess ritual. This ritual is focused on summoning the powers and strength of female energy. Begin with a short meditation. Light a candle and sit quietly with your eyes closed. Imagine your body filling up with light, then imagine that light spreading out until it encompasses your entire home.

While you’re meditating, think about the things in your life that bring you joy and about the people who are important to you. To finish, write down the joys and affirmations for your life in the coming season and then burn it as an offering.

7. Make a (small) Maypole

Collect a suitable stick from a walk or use a thick knitting needle to represent a Maypole for your altar. Decorate using coloured ribbons and top it with a small stone or gem from your collection.

8. Make a Beltane May Basket

You could weave a small basket, or if that’s not practical, buy one to fill with fresh flowers and other small goodies to give to friends or loved ones.

9. Gather for a Beltane Feast

One of the easiest ways to celebrate Beltane is to cook a meal and enjoy it with friends. Suggest a ‘bring a plate’ supper to enjoy by the fire and relax with those you love and care about to honour this time of year.

How will you be celebrating Beltane?

Wishing you a wonderful week

Suzi xoxo

P.S there is 20% off in my Etsy shop this weekend

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