01 May 2007

Hooray, hooray, it's the first of May!

Happy Beltane! The first day of May is celebrated in many countries for many different reasons. It is also an important part of the Celtic calendar. Beltane is a cross-quarter day, marking the midpoint in the Sun's progress between the vernal equinox and summer solstice. Since the Celtic year was based on both lunar and solar cycles, it's possible that the holiday was really celebrated on the full moon nearest the midpoint between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice.

Beltane also marks the beginning of the pastoral summer season when herds of livestock are driven out to the summer pastures and mountain grazing lands. In modern Irish, Mí na Bealtaine {month of Bealtaine} is the name for the month of May. The name of the month is often abbreviated to Bealtaine, with the festival day itself being known as Lá Bealtaine.

The traditional lighting of great bonfires marks a time of purification and transition, heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year, and is accompanied with rituals to protect the people from any harm by Otherworldly spirits, such as the Sídhe. Beltane is a time when the Otherworld is seen as particularly close at hand. Early Gaelic sources from around the 10th century state that the druids of the community would create need-fires on top of a hill on this day and drive the village's cattle between them to purify them and bring luck {Eadar dà theine Bhealltainn in Scottish Gaelic - Between two fires of Beltane}. In Scotland, boughs of juniper 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.

The festival persisted widely up until the 1950s, and in some places the celebration of Beltane continues today. A revived Beltane Fire Festival has been held every year since 1988 during the night of 30 April (Beltane eve) on Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland and attended by up to 15,000 people.

One joyful tradition, Maypole dancing, actually has Germanic roots and is most popular in Germany, Sweden, Austria, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Finland for Spring, May Day, Beltane, and Midsummer festivities and rites.

Here's a wee Celtic chipboard frame (3"x3") that's a preview for my Celtic Seasons kit - now in development!

Get it here or click on the picture.

Please, no file sharing...that's digital piracy.
Send your friends to this blog so they can get their own copy.

If you use it on a project, send me a note. I'd love to see what you do with it.

Slainte! {Gaelic for Cheers!}


Kori said...

Happy May Day! (~a day late!)

Bright Blessings!

Scrapcat4914 said...

TY so very much!!!

Dracowin said...

Beltane Blessings! and thank you for the pretty frame.

me2 said...

Thank you for that explanation! As an Aussie living in the north of Scotland I was puzzled when they declared May 1 to be the first day of summer on the local news that night. Now I know! Love finding out things like that.

Joy said...

Thank you so much!

Julie P. aka babyofmine said...

thanks for the pretty frame! :)