Beltane is an ancient Celtic festival traditionally celebrated on May 1st, marking the beginning of the summer season. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals, which also include Samhain, Imbolc, and Lughnasadh. Beltane falls approximately halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice.
For many Pagans, Beltane is traditionally a time when the veil between our world and that of the Fae is thin. In most European folktales, the Fae kept to themselves unless they wanted something from their human neighbors.
Beltane is known for its rituals and traditions that promote fertility, protection, and abundance. Some of the customs associated with Beltane are:
In modern times, Beltane is celebrated by many Neo-Pagans and Wiccans around the world, as well as people who wish to connect with Celtic traditions or celebrate the arrival of summer.
"The timing of contemporary Samhain celebrations varies according to spiritual tradition and geography. Many of us celebrate Samhain over the course of several days and nights, and these extended observances usually include a series of solo rites as well as ceremonies, feasts, and gatherings with family, friends, and spiritual community. In the northern hemisphere, many Pagans celebrate Samhain from sundown on October 31 through November 1. Others hold Samhain celebrations on the nearest weekend or on the Full or New Moon closest to this time. Some Pagans observe Samhain a bit later, or near November 6, to coincide more closely with the astronomical midpoint between Fall Equinox and Winter Solstice."
The fields are bare, the leaves have fallen from the trees, and the skies are going gray and cold. It is the time of year when the earth has died and gone dormant. Every year on October 31 (or May 1, if you're in the Southern Hemisphere) the Sabbat we call Samhain presents us with the opportunity to once more celebrate the cycle of death and rebirth. For many Pagan traditions, Samhain is a time to reconnect with our ancestors, and honor those who have died. This is the time when the veil between our world and the spirit realm is thin, so it's the perfect time of year to make contact with the dead. Rituals and Ceremonies
Depending on your individual spiritual path, there are many different ways you can celebrate Samhain, but typically the focus is on either honoring our ancestors, or the cycle of death and rebirth. This is the time of year when the gardens and fields are brown and dead. The nights are getting longer, there's a chill in the air, and winter is looming. We may choose to honor our arncestors, celebrating those who have died, and even try to communicate with them.
Because this is a time when many of us honor our dead, it's a good time to think about how we take care of those who have crossed over, and how many Pagan societies have venerated their ancestors.
Imbolc is an ancient Celtic festival traditionally celebrated on February 1st or 2nd, marking the beginning of spring and the halfway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It is one of the four major Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain.
Imbolc is associated with the goddess Brigid (or Brighid, Brigit, or Bride), who is revered as the goddess of fertility, healing, poetry, and smithcraft in Celtic mythology. The festival is a time to celebrate the growing strength of the sun, the awakening of the earth, and the promise of new life and abundance after the long winter.
Some customs and traditions associated with Imbolc include:
In modern times, Imbolc is celebrated by various Neo-Pagan and Wiccan communities, as well as those who wish to connect with Celtic traditions or honor the arrival of spring. Some contemporary Christians also celebrate a related feast called Candlemas, which commemorates the presentation of Jesus at the temple and the purification of the Virgin Mary.
Lughnasadh, also known as Lughnasa or Lammas, is an ancient Celtic festival that marks the beginning of the harvest season. It is traditionally celebrated on August 1st, falling approximately halfway between the summer solstice and the autumn equinox. Lughnasadh is one of the four major Gaelic seasonal festivals, along with Samhain, Imbolc, and Beltane.
The festival is named after the Celtic god Lugh, who was associated with light, craftsmanship, and various skills. Lughnasadh is a time to celebrate the first fruits of the harvest, give thanks for the abundance of crops, and honor the labor and skill of those who cultivate the land.
Some customs and traditions associated with Lughnasadh include:
In modern times, Lughnasadh is celebrated by various Neo-Pagan and Wiccan communities, as well as those who wish to connect with Celtic traditions or honor the harvest season. Some contemporary Christians celebrate a related feast called Lammas (from the Old English for "loaf mass"), which involves blessing loaves of bread made from the first grain harvest.