What Do We Celebrate???
By Celtic reckoning, the actual Beltane celebration begins on sundown of the preceding day, April 30, because the Celts always figured their days from sundown to sundown. And sundown was the proper time for Druids to kindle the great Belfires on the tops of the nearest beacon hill (such as Tara Hill, Co. Meath, in Ireland). These “need-fires” had healing properties.
Frequently, cattle would be driven between two such bonfires (oak wood was the favorite fuel for them) and, on the morrow, they would be taken to their summer pastures.
How did we Celebrate??
May is named for Maia, grandmother, the Goddess of death and fertility. Maia scorns marriage, so it is a good idea to put weddings off until June. Although less stern goddesses now oversee May festivities, wreaths and baskets of Hawthorn are still used in some May festivals in Maia’s honor.
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