May 1st marks May Day and the Celtic festival of Beltane. The word Beltane originates from the Celtic God “Bel”, meaning the bright one and the Gaelic word “teine” meaning fire. It is a fire festival that reminds us to bring our ideas, hopes and dreams into action.
May Day and Beltane ceremonies honor life. They represent the peak of Spring and the beginning of Summer. Earth energies are at their strongest and most active. Life springs forth in all of its richness, the land is covered with beautiful flowers and the leaves on the trees are their most vibrant green.
Celtic festivals are often aligned with the flow of Nature. In spring, thoughts turn to farming and the hope of a fruitful harvest to sustain the community. May Day is a time of vows, handfastings and commitments.
Fire is an important element of most Beltane celebrations and there are many traditions associated with it. It is seen to have purifying qualities which cleanse and revitalize. People leap over a Beltane fire to bring good fortune, fertility (of mind, body and spirit) and happiness through the coming year. Cattle and other animals were driven through the smoke as a protection from disease and to bring fertility.
The Maypole is another tradition of May Day and Beltane. Its many-colored ribbons and the weaving dance represent the spiral of Life and the union between Earth and Sky.
The colors green, red and white are favorites for Beltane. Green represents growth, abundance and fertility. Red represents strength, vitality and passion. White is for cleansing and clearing.
Here are 5 ways to celebrate May Day:
Get out in Nature: this is a great way to feel the Earth energy. Go for a walk outside, anywhere you can see, hear, smell and touch nature is good. A little gardening or just potting plants will also do the trick.
Attend a Maypole Celebration: perfect for connecting with community. Look for events in your local area.
Stoke your own “Bale” Fire: a fire festival is not complete without some type of fire. Don’t worry if you don’t have a large outdoor space to do a bonfire. Your fire can be big or small. You can use a fire pit, fireplace or even a candle.
Cleanse your Space: the powerful energy of new beginnings makes this an ideal time to smudge your space. Release negative energy and make room for growth. (Click here for Melanie’s video on smudging)
Dress a Tree: go out and celebrate a tree. Sit with it, talk to it, dance around it, honor the tree and its fertility. Hang ribbons from its branches, each ribbon representing a wish or prayer.
Do you do something special for May Day or Beltane? Tell us about yours in the comments below.