Calendar

Sep
21
Sat
Winter Findings
Sep 21 @ 12:00 am – Sep 29 @ 11:45 pm

I have not come across a great deal of distinctive traditional lore about the Autumn Equinox that would distinguish it from the Harvest festivals found worldwide. It seems to have been overshadowed to some extent by the Winter Nights which we celebrate at the equinox rather than at the more traditional time of mid-November.

Winter Finding should be treated as a general harvest festival. Whichever Gods you invoke for fertility of the land would be most appropriate to invoke again at this time. We have honored Frey & Freya and Nerthus & Njord for this purpose. You can take your pick. Even more so than other holidays, a large feast is appropriate at this time, perhaps concentrating on local vegetables and grains more than meat.

Source link: http://www.ravenkindred.com/RBHolidays.html

Oct
1
Tue
Samhain (Halloween)
Oct 1 all-day

Samhain (pronounced /ˈsɑːwɪn/ SAH-win or /ˈsaʊ.ɪn/ SOW-in, Irish pronunciation: [sˠəuɪnʲ]) is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. Traditionally, it is celebrated from 31 October to 1 November, as the Celtic day began and ended at sunset. This is about halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with ImbolcBealtaine and Lughnasadh. Historically, it was widely observed throughout IrelandScotland and the Isle of Man. Similar festivals are held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands; for example the Brythonic Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall), Kalan Goañv (in Brittany), and Samaín (in Galicia[1][2][3]).

Information Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samhain

 

 

Composer Camille Saint-Saëns’ piece Danse Macabre draws on the late-medieval allegory of “the Dance of Death” — pictured here in a painting of the same name by Frans Francken

Halloween or Hallowe’en (a contraction of All Hallows‘ Evening),[5] also known as Allhalloween,[6] All Hallows’ Eve,[7] or All Saints’ Eve,[8] is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide,[9] the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.[10][11]

It is widely believed that many Halloween traditions originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain; that such festivals may have had pagan roots; and that Samhain itself was Christianized as Halloween by the early Church.[1][7][12][13][14][15] Some believe, however, that Halloween began solely as a Christian holiday, separate from ancient festivals like Samhain.[1][16][17][18][19]

Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related guising), attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfiresapple bobbingdivination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror films. In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular,[20][21][22] although elsewhere it is a more commercial and secular celebration.[23][24][25] Some Christians historically abstained from meat on All Hallows’ Eve, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain vegetarian foods on this vigil day, including apples, potato pancakes, and soul cakes.[26][27][28][29]

Information Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween

Oct
29
Tue
Winter Nights
Oct 29 all-day

The beginning of the winter season for the Northern folk.  Rememberances of the dead and one’s ancestors were made during this feast.  Winternights was a ceremony of wild abandon; much like the Carnivale season in the Mediterranean countries, and it marked the end of the summer season of commerce and travel and the beginning of the winter season of hunting.  Much divination was done during Winternights to foretell the fates of those entering the coming year.  It was said that if one sat on a barrow-mound (grave) all night long on Winternights, one would have full divinatory, shamanic (galdr and seith), and bardic (skaldr) powers . . . that is, if one retained one’s sanity!  Winternights marked the beginning of the Wild Hunt, which would continue until Walpurgisnacht.  This festival corresponds roughly to the Celtic Samhain, and the modern American festival of Halloween, although the darker aspects of the festival are not as pronounced among the Norse people.  (The Norse festival of darkness was Walpurgis, a full 6 months away).

Some Nordic-inspired groups call it Winter Nights, as winter is coming on. Hela, Goddess of the Dead, is honored on this day, as is Mordgud the guardian of the Underworld, Nidhogg the corpse-eating dragon, Hlin the Goddess of Grief, and Hermod who walked the road to Hel. The Norns (Fates) can be honored here (or sometimes on December 30, modern New Year’s Eve, to foretell the year’s future). Because the veils between the worlds are thin at this time, Vor the goddess of divination may be honored. Baldur, Nanna, and Hoder may be honored in their after-death form as deities of light in darkness. The ancestors and beloved Dead are, of course, hailed at this time, but they may also be hailed rightly at any other holiday, as there is a strong streak of ancestor worship in the Northern Tradition.

 

​Winternights is held the 31st of October. Winternights marked the final end of harvest and the time when the animals that were not expected to make it through the winter were butchered and smoked or made into sausage. The festival is also called “Elf-Blessing”, “Dis-Blessing”, or “Frey-Blessing”, which tells us that it was especially a time of honouring the ancestral spirits, the spirits of the land, the Vanir, and the powers of fruitfulness, wisdom, and death. It marks the turning of the year from summer to winter, the turning of our awareness from outside to inside. Among the Norse, the ritual was often led by the woman of a family – the ruler of the house and all within. One of the commonest harvest customs of the Germanic people was the hallowing and leaving of the “Last Sheaf” in the field, often for Odin and/or his host of the dead, though the specifics of the custom vary considerably over its wide range. The Wild Hunt begins to ride after Winternights, and the roads and fields no longer belong to humans, but to ghosts and trolls. The Winternights feast is also especially seen as a time to celebrate our kinship and friendship with both the living and our earlier forebears. It marks the beginning of the long dark wintertime at which memory becomes more important than foresight, at which old tales are told and great deeds are toasted as we ready ourselves for the spring to come. It is a time to think of accomplishments achieved and those which have yet to be made. Winternights also marks the beginning of a time of indoor work, thought and craftsmanship.

These festival and feast celebrated the accessibility, veneration, awe, and respect of the dead. This was also a time for contemplation. To the ancient Germanic peoples death was never very far away, and it viewed as a natural and necessary part of life. To die was not as much of a surprise or tragedy it is in modern times and death as not viewed as something “scary” or “evil”. Of higher importance to the Germanic people was to live & die with honour and thereby live on in the memory of the tribe and be honoured at this great feast.

Starting on this night, the great divisions between the worlds was somewhat diminished which can allow the forces of chaos to invade the realms of order, the material world conjoining with the world of the dead. At this time began the Wild hunt in which the restless spirits of the dead and those yet to be born walked amongst the living. The dead could return to the places where they had lived and food and entertainment were provided in their honour. In this way the tribes were at one with its past, present and future.

Again, the Christians forcefully subverted the sacred Germanic Heathen calendar to honour Christianity, Winter nights on October 31 became “All Hallows Eve” and November 1st was declared “All Saint’s Day”.

 
Nov
29
Fri
Winter Nights
Nov 29 – Nov 30 all-day

The beginning of the winter season for the Northern folk.  Rememberances of the dead and one’s ancestors were made during this feast.  Winternights was a ceremony of wild abandon; much like the Carnivale season in the Mediterranean countries, and it marked the end of the summer season of commerce and travel and the beginning of the winter season of hunting.  Much divination was done during Winternights to foretell the fates of those entering the coming year.  It was said that if one sat on a barrow-mound (grave) all night long on Winternights, one would have full divinatory, shamanic (galdr and seith), and bardic (skaldr) powers . . . that is, if one retained one’s sanity!  Winternights marked the beginning of the Wild Hunt, which would continue until Walpurgisnacht.  This festival corresponds roughly to the Celtic Samhain, and the modern American festival of Halloween, although the darker aspects of the festival are not as pronounced among the Norse people.  (The Norse festival of darkness was Walpurgis, a full 6 months away).

Some Nordic-inspired groups call it Winter Nights, as winter is coming on. Hela, Goddess of the Dead, is honored on this day, as is Mordgud the guardian of the Underworld, Nidhogg the corpse-eating dragon, Hlin the Goddess of Grief, and Hermod who walked the road to Hel. The Norns (Fates) can be honored here (or sometimes on December 30, modern New Year’s Eve, to foretell the year’s future). Because the veils between the worlds are thin at this time, Vor the goddess of divination may be honored. Baldur, Nanna, and Hoder may be honored in their after-death form as deities of light in darkness. The ancestors and beloved Dead are, of course, hailed at this time, but they may also be hailed rightly at any other holiday, as there is a strong streak of ancestor worship in the Northern Tradition.

 

​Winternights is held the 31st of October. Winternights marked the final end of harvest and the time when the animals that were not expected to make it through the winter were butchered and smoked or made into sausage. The festival is also called “Elf-Blessing”, “Dis-Blessing”, or “Frey-Blessing”, which tells us that it was especially a time of honouring the ancestral spirits, the spirits of the land, the Vanir, and the powers of fruitfulness, wisdom, and death. It marks the turning of the year from summer to winter, the turning of our awareness from outside to inside. Among the Norse, the ritual was often led by the woman of a family – the ruler of the house and all within. One of the commonest harvest customs of the Germanic people was the hallowing and leaving of the “Last Sheaf” in the field, often for Odin and/or his host of the dead, though the specifics of the custom vary considerably over its wide range. The Wild Hunt begins to ride after Winternights, and the roads and fields no longer belong to humans, but to ghosts and trolls. The Winternights feast is also especially seen as a time to celebrate our kinship and friendship with both the living and our earlier forebears. It marks the beginning of the long dark wintertime at which memory becomes more important than foresight, at which old tales are told and great deeds are toasted as we ready ourselves for the spring to come. It is a time to think of accomplishments achieved and those which have yet to be made. Winternights also marks the beginning of a time of indoor work, thought and craftsmanship.

These festival and feast celebrated the accessibility, veneration, awe, and respect of the dead. This was also a time for contemplation. To the ancient Germanic peoples death was never very far away, and it viewed as a natural and necessary part of life. To die was not as much of a surprise or tragedy it is in modern times and death as not viewed as something “scary” or “evil”. Of higher importance to the Germanic people was to live & die with honour and thereby live on in the memory of the tribe and be honoured at this great feast.

Starting on this night, the great divisions between the worlds was somewhat diminished which can allow the forces of chaos to invade the realms of order, the material world conjoining with the world of the dead. At this time began the Wild hunt in which the restless spirits of the dead and those yet to be born walked amongst the living. The dead could return to the places where they had lived and food and entertainment were provided in their honour. In this way the tribes were at one with its past, present and future.

Again, the Christians forcefully subverted the sacred Germanic Heathen calendar to honour Christianity, Winter nights on October 31 became “All Hallows Eve” and November 1st was declared “All Saint’s Day”.

 
Dec
3
Tue
Alfar (Elf) Migration Day
Dec 3 all-day

On New Year’s Eve, it is believed that the elves move to new locations, and Icelanders leave candles to help them find their way.

 Alexander, Merle (1995-12-19). “CHRISTMAS ABOUNDS WITH SPIRITS”. The Oregonian. pp. FD02.

 

Dec
20
Fri
Yule (Yuletide)
Dec 20 all-day

Yule or Yuletide (“Yule time”) is a festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples. Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht. It later underwent Christianised reformulation resulting in the term Christmastide.

Terms with an etymological equivalent to Yule are used in the Nordic countries for Christmas with its religious rites, but also for the holidays of this season. Today Yule is also used to a lesser extent in the English-speaking world as a synonym for Christmas. Present day Christmas customs and traditions such as the Yule logYule goatYule boarYule singing, and others stem from pagan Yule. Today the event is celebrated in Heathenry and some other forms of Modern Paganism.

 

Information Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yule

 

Yule is the most important holiday of the year. Everyone is familiar with the shortness of the deep winter days, but in the Scandinavian countries this is of even greater importance. At the Yuletide there is almost no sunlight at all, and the climate would have people bound in their homes waiting for the return of Spring.

Yule is a long festival, traditionally held to be 12 days or more. After Yule the days began to get longer and the festival represented the breaking of the heart of winter and the beginning of the new year. Yule was the holiday of either Thor or Frey, although there is no reason not to honor both Gods in modern practice.

Frey is the God of fertility and farming and was honored at Yule in the hopes that his time would soon return. Frey is also an important God at this time as shown in the myth “The Wooing of Gerd.” Gerd is Frey’s wife, and she was once a frost giant. Frey had seen her while he was seated on Odin’s High Seat, and was utterly taken by her, but she would not yield until Skirnir, Frey’s messenger or perhaps Frey in disguise, threatened her with an eternity of cold. In this way, Frey brings back the summer times by wooing a daughter of cold and frost. His love for her brings warmth to her heart and to the land.

Thor’s position at Yule is a bit more savage. He is the sworn enemy of the Frost Giants and Jotnar who rule the winter months, and as such is honored as the God who’s actions fight off these creatures and bring back the spring.

Our kindred also honors Sunna, the Sun Goddess, at Yule. However, we feel she is more important at Midsummer, when she is at her height.

The most important symbols of Yule are still with us today. Most of the supposedly secular customs of Christmas are actually Pagan in origin. Evergreen trees and holly which remained green throughout the long nights and cold were a promise that spring would once again return to the land. These symbols may also have been a connection to the nature spirits who have sway over the return of the warm days. The modern conception of Santa Claus as an elf, for whom offerings of milk and cookies are left, is possibly a modern continuation of leaving offerings for the Alvar and other nature spirits. The idea of children staying up all night in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Santa Claus may be a remnant of people staying awake to mark the long night and remind the sun to return. (In the latter case it’s considered an adequate substitution to leave a candle going all night to light the way for the returning sun.)

Yule is a weeks long festival, not just a single holiday. The Yule season begins on the solstice, which is the Mother Night of Yule, and ends with Twelfth Night/New Years. As a point of interest, January seventh is St. Distaff’s day, which Nigel Pennic has suggested may have been a day sacred to Frigg, whose symbol is the distaff.

While one might expect a rather dour theme to a holiday held in the darkness and cold, Yule is a time of feasting and gladness.

The most important custom at Yule for modern Pagans is the swearing of Yule oaths. Our kindred does this at Twelfth Night (aka New Years Eve). We hold a sumbel and we keep the Yule wreath handy for anyone who wishes to swear an oath for the coming year.

There are simply so many different Yule customs, both ancient and modern, that one has almost limitless possibilities even when staying within Scandanavian and Germanic customs. In modern practice one might honor Sunna on the Mother Night, then hold a blot a few days later to Thor, a feast for New Years day which is shared with the house and land spirits, and then finish on Twelfth Night with a ritual to Frey, whose time is then officially beginning.

Source Link: http://www.ravenkindred.com/RBHolidays.html

Feb
2
Sun
Charming of the Plow (Beltane)
Feb 2 all-day

On this day, in Asatru many heathens will honor the beings of fertility and spring, such as Frey, Nerthus, Jord, the Goddess Ostara, the Ancestors and vaettir of the land, the wights. To Frigg and Freya, many of the divine are honored at this time, for there is much to give thanks for, and be mindful of. We give thanks and honor to these beings of life and fertility, we thank them for the gifts that they give us, and we ask them to continue to do so.

It is however, important to remember that we are still in Winter, and the dark tendrils of the cold are still tight on the land. Some darker aspects of the divine are also appropriately honored, such as Odin, with his many aspects, giving Odin thanks is never a bad thing.

Source Link: http://www.theasatrucommunity.org/charming-of-the-plow?p=66

Charming of the Plow is a time of fertility, thanks, and hope for the coming spring. It is a time to give thanks to the land for keeping us during the winter, the earth, the divine, and the spirits  for the fertility that is to come in the spring. Charming of the Plow is an important holiday.

mbolc or Imbolg (/ɪˈmɒlɡ/ i-MOLG), also called (SaintBrigid’s Day (IrishLá Fhéile BrídeScottish GaelicLà Fhèill BrìghdeManxLaa’l Breeshey), is a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is held on 1/2 February, or about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.[1][2] Historically, it was widely observed throughout IrelandScotland and the Isle of Man. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with BeltaneLughnasadh and Samhain[3]—and corresponds to the Welsh Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau. For Christians, especially in Ireland, it is the feast day of Saint Brigid.

Imbolc is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and there is evidence it has been an important date since ancient times. It is believed that it was originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brigid (goddess of fertility) and that it was Christianized as a festival of Saint Brigid, who is thought to be a Christianization of the goddess.[4] At Imbolc, Brigid’s crosses were made and a doll-like figure of Brigid, called a Brídeóg, would be paraded from house-to-house. Brigid was said to visit one’s home at Imbolc. To receive her blessings, people would make a bed for Brigid and leave her food and drink, while items of clothing would be left outside for her to bless. Brigid was also invoked to protect homes and livestock. Special feasts were had, holy wells were visited and it was also a time for divination.

Although many of its customs died out in the 20th century, it is still observed and in some places it has been revived as a cultural event. Since the latter 20th century, Celtic neopagansand Wiccans have observed Imbolc as a religious holiday.[1][2]

Source Link:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imbolc

 

Mar
21
Sat
Summer Finding (Ostara)
Mar 21 @ 12:00 am – Mar 25 @ 11:45 pm

Ēostre or Ostara (Old EnglishĒastre [æːɑstre]Northumbrian dialect Ēostre [eːostre]Old High German*Ôstara ) is a Germanic goddess who, by way of the Germanic month bearing her name (Northumbrian: ĒosturmōnaþWest SaxonĒastermōnaþ; Old High German: Ôstarmânoth), is the namesake of the festival of Easter in some languages. Ēostre is attested solely by Bede in his 8th-century work The Reckoning of Time, where Bede states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent of April), pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Ēostre’s honor, but that this tradition had died out by his time, replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.

By way of linguistic reconstruction, the matter of a goddess called *Austrō in the Proto-Germanic language has been examined in detail since the foundation of Germanic philology in the 19th century by scholar Jacob Grimm and others. As the Germanic languages descend from Proto-Indo-European (PIE), historical linguists have traced the name to a Proto-Indo-European goddess of the dawn *H₂ewsṓs (→ *Ausṓs), from which descends the Common Germanic divinity from whom Ēostre and Ostara are held to descend. Additionally, scholars have linked the goddess’s name to a variety of Germanic personal names, a series of location names (toponyms) in England, and, discovered in 1958, over 150 inscriptions from the 2nd century CE referring to the matronae Austriahenae.

Theories connecting Ēostre with records of Germanic Easter customs, including hares and eggs, have been proposed. Particularly prior to the discovery of the matronae Austriahenae and further developments in Indo-European studies, debate has occurred among some scholars about whether or not the goddess was an invention of Bede. Ēostre and Ostara are sometimes referenced in modern popular culture and are venerated in some forms of Germanic neopaganism.

Source Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%92ostre

 

Summer Finding is also known to many groups as Ostara, the holiday sacred to the Goddess for whom the modern Easter is named. She is a fertility Goddess and her symbols are the hare and the egg. She was an important Goddess of spring to the ancient Saxons, but we know little else of her other than this. Some have suggested that Ostara is merely an alternate name for Frigg or Freya, but neither of these Goddesses seem to have quite the same fertility function as Ostara does. Frigg seems too “high class” to be associated with such an earthy festival and Freya’s form of fertility is more based on eroticism than reproduction.

The obvious folk tradition at this time of year involves eggs. These were colored as they are today, but then they were buried, or more appropriately, planted in the earth. Some have suggested that the act was purely magical, the fertility of the eggs would then be transferred from the animal realm to the plant realm and would increase the prosperity of the harvest. It’s also possible that they were left as an offering to the alvar and the spirits of the plants.

In any case a blot should be prepared to the Goddess of Spring, however one wishes to honor her, and also to the spirits of the land.

Source Link: http://www.ravenkindred.com/RBHolidays.html

 

Apr
22
Wed
Earth Day
Apr 22 all-day

Artist: Molly Brett

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. Worldwide, various events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day events in more than 193 countries[1] are now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.[2]

On Earth Day 2016, the landmark Paris Agreement was signed by the United StatesChina, and some 120 other countries.[3][4][5] This signing satisfied a key requirement for the entry into force of the historic draft climate protection treaty adopted by consensus of the 195 nations present at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations. A month later a separate Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom award in recognition of his work.[6] While this April 22 Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations.[7][8]

Numerous communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on the environmental issues that the world faces. In 2017, the March for Science occurred on Earth Day (April 22, 2017) and was followed by the People’s Climate Mobilization (April 29, 2017).

 

Information Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Day

May
1
Fri
May Day (Beltane)
May 1 all-day

May Day revels. Original poster for sale for £50 including VAT and postage within the UK.

May Day is a public holiday usually celebrated on May 1. It is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival[1] and a traditional spring holiday in many cultures. Dances, singing, and cake are usually part of the festivities. In the late 19th century, May Day was chosen as the date for International Workers’ Day by the Socialists and Communists of the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago.[2] International Workers’ Day may also be referred to as “May Day”, but it is a different celebration from the traditional May Day.

The earliest May Day celebrations appeared with the Floralia, festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, held on April 27 during the Roman Republic era, and with the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane, most commonly held on April 30. The day was a traditional summer holiday in many European pagan cultures. While February 1 was the first day of spring, May 1 was the first day of summer; hence, the summer solstice on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer.[3]

As Europe became Christianised, the pagan holidays lost their religious character and May Day changed into a popular secular celebration. A significant celebration of May Day occurs in Germany where it is one of several days on which St. Walburga, credited with bringing Christianity to Germany, is celebrated. The secular versions of May Day, observed in Europe and North America, may be best known for their traditions of dancing around the maypole and crowning the Queen of May. Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of “May baskets,” small baskets of sweets or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbours’ doorsteps.[4]

Since the 18th century, many Roman Catholics have observed May – and May Day – with various May devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary[5] In works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary’s head will often be adorned with flowers in a May crowning. May 1 is also one of two feast days of the Catholic patron saint of workers St Joseph the Worker, a carpenter, husband to Mother Mary, and surrogate father of Jesus.[6] Replacing another feast to St. Joseph, this date was chosen by Pope Pius XII in 1955 as a counterpoint to the communist International Workers Day celebrations on May Day.[6]

In the late 20th century, many neopagans began reconstructing traditions and celebrating May Day as a pagan religious festival.[7]

Source Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May_Day#Germany

 

 

Beltane (/ˈbɛl.tn/)[3][4] is the anglicised name for the Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on 1 May, or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Historically, it was widely observed throughout IrelandScotland and the Isle of Man. In Irish the name for the festival day is Lá Bealtaine ([l̪ˠaː ˈbʲal̪ˠt̪ˠənʲə]), in Scottish Gaelic Là Bealltainn([l̪ˠa: ˈpjaul̪ˠt̪ˠɪɲ]) and in Manx Gaelic Laa Boaltinn/Boaldyn. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with SamhainImbolc and Lughnasadh—and is similar to the Welsh Calan Mai.

Beltane is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature, and it is associated with important events in Irish mythology. It marked the beginning of summer and was when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled, and their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around the bonfire or between two bonfires, and sometimes leap over the flames or embers. All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Beltane bonfire. These gatherings would be accompanied by a feast, and some of the food and drink would be offered to the aos sí. Doors, windows, byres and the cattle themselves would be decorated with yellow May flowers, perhaps because they evoked fire. In parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush: a thorn bush decorated with flowers, ribbons and bright shells. Holy wells were also visited, while Beltane dew was thought to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness. Many of these customs were part of May Day or Midsummer festivals in other parts of Great Britain and Europe.

Beltane celebrations had largely died out by the mid-20th century, although some of its customs continued and in some places it has been revived as a cultural event. Since the late 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Beltane, or something based on it, as a religious holiday. Neopagans in the Southern Hemisphere often celebrate Beltane at the other end of the year (around 1 November).

Source Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beltane