The Gaelic May Day, Beltane, is simply the first day of summer.
It is mainly celebrated in Ireland and Scotland, as one of its four Gaelic seasonal festivals – Samhain, Imbolc & Lughnasadh.
Like most festivals, it marked certain times of the year for regular every day people. So Beltane, was considered a good time for people to know when the cattle go out to their summer pastures. There would be rituals and sacrifices given out to the gods as a way to hopefully have healthy animals and crops.
As the pagan rituals advanced overtime, they would use the yellow mayflower to decorate their homes, to burn in a Beltane bonfire with a feast celebrated with their neighbors. Holy wells were also visited and people would even save the dew from the mornings on Beltane, to use on their skin.
In the 21st-century, pagans and wiccans use it as a time to celebrate abundance and fertility. A lot of celebrations are held at this time like pagan marriages. It’s a great way to bring in the summer and in the southern hemisphere kick off the winter with Samhain aka Halloween at that time. Because of the two big holidays on either end of the earth’s hemisphere, it is considered a time when the veil between the living and the dead is very thin, thus making paranormal experiences more likely to happen. It is also a great time then, to celebrate your ancestors and invite them to the festivities.
There are fire burning rituals, different wreaths as well as other floral mayflower decorations placed as well as burnt on Beltane. The celebratory May pole and the people enjoy the day as a day of happiness and abundance for the summer to come. Lots of sweet and savoury foods are cooked as a way to express and celebrate as well as leave offerings for the needs of the crops and animals during the summer time.
Like the Empress card, of the major arcana in tarot, showing the time of Venus as well as Taurus – which we are in right now, expresses a time of abundance and fertility.
Mythologically, Beltane is when Persephone can come back to Demeter and life springs into action again. It is also a merging of the masculine and feminine – the mating season now brings forth births of wildlife, etc.