The Celtic Festival of Beltane

There are four significant seasonal festivals in the Celtic calendar and all centre around important times in nature and farming, heralding the beginning of new seasons and new activities.

They are Imbolc (February), Beltane or Beltene (May), Lughnasadh (August) and Samhain (October).

Beltane is the Celtic May Day festival celebrated on the first of May. It was considered an important festival in the Celtic calendar; a time for welcoming the warmth of the summer sun and the imminent ripening of the crops. It falls halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice.

Beltane takes its name from the Celtic god Belenus, linked with light, sun and healing, the word 'bel' translates as 'light'. This was the time of year when rituals were performed in order to protect the precious livestock as they were sent back out into the fields. It was also hoped that these activities would lead to abundant crops after the harsh, cold dark days of the winter. Bonfires were lit and flowers were often used to decorate doorways.

The picture shows one of the lovely hawthorn trees around here, which bloom in May. Hawthorn is often associated with Beltane and was of great significance to the Celts, symbolising regeneration, love and protection.

Photo credit: David Keys @d.keyssustainablewoodworking

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