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May 1: Beltane, Celtic festival of fertility and love

May 1: Beltane, Celtic festival of fertility and love

On May 1 we celebrate Beltane, a Celtic festival of fertility and love, which also marks the arrival of the sunny season.

Ancient Druidic and Celtic culture essentially divided the year into two seasons: winter lasted from November 1, from the evening of Samhain to Beltane, when the summer period began. All cultural circles commemorate Beltane in some form, most famously May Day and Walpurgis Night, with the “May Tree” as a symbol.

However, the Celts and Pagans' love festival also maintains many traditions that faithfully reflect the significance of the turn of the year.
Ancient Beltane is based on the myth of the union of the great goddess and the horned god, which symbolizes the creation resulting from the connection of two special – apparently incompatible – forces. Hence this joyful and very enjoyable celebration with its festival atmosphere, full of feasts and pleasures, was born.

The Celtic tradition dates back to many cultures (Image: Shutterstock)

Fertility episodes

Beltane symbolizes the return of vitality, passion, and the fulfillment of our desires, which is why love spells and fertility were the focus of the holiday. Fire was the main element at the heart of the magical evening, and the forces and colors of nature were symbolically linked to it.

With the help of the Druid priests, they kindled a huge bonfire in the public square, then danced around it merrily and jumped over it – according to their belief, this was how they protected themselves from diseases and evil spirits. The animals surrounding the house also participated in the fire jump, from which the weak died and the strong survived.

The column also originates from here

They decorated their homes with colorful flowers and wreaths, and set up an altar in their homes, in the middle of which stood a red candle surrounded by flower petals. They chanted prayers, supplications, and vows of love, and the words spoken on Beltane Night were believed to have a special magical power.

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The “May Tree” is a phallic symbol carrying masculine energies, decorated with ribbons and rags of different colors depending on their desire. Red was the embodiment of love and passion, purple and white of purity, and green of nature and health.
In addition to love magic, weaving and spinning were popular activities, the essence of which is that two different materials create a new material, the “third”.

Nowadays, fire festivals associated with Beltane have moved more in the direction of widespread hedonism, thus moving away from the holiday's original principles emphasizing purity and naturalness.

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