What Is Beltane?

I meant to get this posted on April 30th so that it would be ready for today (May 1). Life happens, amirite? Beltane occurs in the Northern hemisphere on May 1. Our brethren in the Southern hemisphere are celebrating Samhain. Beltane happens to be one of my favorite Pagan holidays. I love spring. I have some fantastic personal memories related to this day as well.

However, before I get started, let’s talk about a couple of other things. Although the meaning and celebration behind Beltane is primarily the same for any Pagan belief system (in which it is included), it is important to note that there may be changes. Some may have specific names of the Deities that they prefer to use. So, if you are interested in one particular tradition, make sure that you do your research. I am trained in a couple of different traditions (Gardnerian and Correllian). I’m also considered eclectic. So, the terms that I use are right for me. The sentiments are all there, but again, you would want to talk with HPs in other traditions in which you are interested in or do your own research.

Beltane is a Sabbat. In Wicca, there are eight Sabbats. Beltane begins at moonrise on April 30th. We are celebrating the halfway point between spring and summer. It’s part of the Wheel of the Year.

Beltane is of Celtic origin. It’s also referred to as Celtic May Day. Rituals during the ancient celebrations were for fertility…not just in people, but also in land and for animals. Bonfires were established and animals, such as cattle, were driven between the bonfires as a symbolic reference of contact with the sun.

Beltane is also a celebration of the union between the God and the Goddess. For Pagans, this is a popular time of year for handfasting. Braided hair during Beltane is to honor the union between the God and Goddess (between man and woman). This is a celebration of fertility…which is to celebrate life. Celebrating fertility and life also includes celebrating sex as a wonderful part of life (when it is consensual).

During Beltane, the God matured into a young man and the Goddess took him as her lover. And this is how life began. This is a great time of year to foster both feminine and masculine energies.

What about the Maypole?

Ah, yes. The Maypole. It is another Pagan symbol. The flowers and ribbons wrapping around the Maypole represent the Goddess. The Maypole itself represents the God (a phallic-shaped pole). Together, they unite.

Traditional Foods for Beltane

Easy to get foods for Beltane include cherries, dairy, greens, honey, nuts, oats, fruits that are red, red wine, sweets, and strawberries.

Beltane foods to make (links go back to the original sites):

Chicken and barley stew with herbs; Beltane cake; fried honeycakes; and hearth bread (from Recipes for a Pagan Soul)

Dandelion salad; strawberry crisp; and May wine (from Raven and Crone)

Beltane Ideas for Families with Children

I get a lot of requests from new followers who want to know about family-friendly ideas for Sabbats.

First talk to children about love. You don’t necessarily have to explain sex to them (especially if they aren’t ready for that conversation). Then, do some of the following activities:

  • Gather flowers in a field and give them to neighbors;
  • Weave paper baskets to hold flowers (I remember doing this with my grandmother);
  • Make a floral garland together;
  • Create a Maypole and attach ribbons to it;
  • Engage in a ritual together for family abundance;
  • Braid ribbons to hang on trees and bushes
  • Create Green Man masks;
  • Host a bonfire (if you can).

This page last updated on May 1, 2017.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *