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April 27, 2011

Beltane Festival Symbolizes Start of Summer

by Joy Richardson

Beltane is one of the greater sabbats of the pagan calendar and is celebrated on May 1 in the Northern Hemisphere. Beltane's polar opposite, Samhain, is celebrated on this day in the Southern Hemisphere.
Beltane marks the midpoint of the sun’s progress between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice. Beltane symbolizes the start of summer, and is one of the most important festivals of the year.
Its origins lie among the Celtic people of Western Europe and was celebrated all across the British Isles, including England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. In Ireland it was known as “Bealtaine”, in Scotland “Bealtunn”, and in Wales as “Galan Mae”.

Historically, this is the time of year when crops began to grow, when animals bore their young, and when people came out of houses after being cooped up during the long dark months of winter. In olden times the coming of fair weather and longer daylight hours were most welcome and cause for celebration.

Building Sacred Fires

Beltane is one of the four great “fire festivals” that quarter the turning points of the Celtic year. In preparation of Beltane, the