Beltane is the Celtic fire festival marking the beginning of Summer and honoring the God of the Sun. The celebrations at this time extend all over Europe and also further into Phoenicia and Mesopotamia. It is commonly observed in most cultures with sacred fires celebrating the dead and ancestors, purification, sexual union of the Sun God and the young Goddess, and heightened fairy activity.

From these common observances, traditions such as the Maypole dances wearing of bells (to frighten the mischievous fairy folk which in Celtic lands were not considered friendly), dousing all fires in the community to be relit from the sacred fires, passing between or over fires, or through the smoke for purification. Sexuality was expressive and performed in honor of the God and Goddess.

Today it is commonly known and celebrated as “May Day” and the dance of the maypole still observed. The mixing of the cultures and christianization has wiped out most of the unique practices of the ancestors.

As at Samhain, this is a heightened time of activity for the dead and the veils are also thin between the realms. Contact with them and fairy activity is high. Rituals for prosperity, fertility, and remembrances of the dead are ways to continue the traditions forward with feasting, fun, flowers, joyfulness, and perhaps some lusty fun.

Customs and Traditions

May pole dance
Fairy flowers