Hello again, lads and lassies! It’s here! The lusty month of May! And I wanted to tell you a little bit about how the ancient Celts welcomed the first touch of summer. Our Celtic ancestors celebrated the Beltane Fire Festival.
WHAT IS THE BELTANE FIRE FESTIVAL?
Beltane is a Celtic word which means ‘fires of Bel’ (Bel was a Celtic deity). Beltane marks the beginning of summer and in former times, all fires of locality were extinguished on May Eve. Following, they were relit from the village’s Beltane fire to symbolically give everyone a fresh start. The Cattle are then lead into the ancient stone circles between two fires as a symbol of purification. Along with a safeguard against diseases. The Beltane fire rituals included a sun-rise vigil on a high place where the Sun encouraged to come out of its darkness with the help of a bonfire.
BELTANE AND FERTITLITY
The festival celebrates the fertility of the coming year. This fire ritual included courting, which would lead to marriage matches. In addition, Did you know, that “spring fever” we joke about every year dates back further back than you may think? Contrary to how College kids let loose down in the Florida Keys. One could venture to say this frisky feeling Spring ushers in is part of our human nature, that we are connected to the changing of the seasons. That we are part of nature and experience changes in ourselves just as the natural elements do. Well-you’re right on target. This is exactly what the ancient Celts believed!
The ancient celts were environmentally spiritual. In particular, the change in the season was a big deal for them. They believed that mankind was a part of nature, that the veil was thin between this world and the other world.The Celts followed an “earth religion”. They worshipped multiple gods, the sun and the earth. The cels believed that if man didn’t light the bonfires to get the sun to come back up, the new season wouldn’t come! The celts didn’t understand the science behind it all, the Celts believed they could influence the weather and the seasons with rituals. Rituals just like Beltane
I hope you enjoyed this little history lesson, and that it gives you some insight into other traditions that cultures all over the world celebrate. (Think Cinco de Mayo….May Day in England with the Maypole, the May Queen, etc….) From all of us at Donegal Square, we wish you a fruitful, happy, and healthy summer!
– Madelyn Dundon