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Encyclopedia > Beltane
This article is about the Gaelic holiday. For other uses, see Beltane (disambiguation).
Beltane
Observed by: Gaels, Neopagans, Pagans, Various Polytheists
Other names Beltaine, Bealltainn
Meaning: "Bright fire"
Begins: Around the midpoint of the Sun's movement
between the Vernal Equinox and Summer Solstice.
Occasion: Traditional first day of summer in Ireland, Scotland and Isle of Man
Symbols: Bale fire
Related to: Walpurgis Night, May Day

Beltane or Bealtaine (Irish language) - Bealltainn (Scottish Gaelic [1]), - Bealtaine pronounced IPA /ˈbʲɑlˠ.t̪ˠə.n̪ʲə/) is an ancient Gaelic holiday celebrated around May 1. Mí na Bealtaine "month of the Bealtaine festival" is the name for the month of May in modern Irish. It was formerly spelt "Bealtuinn" in Scottish Gaelic. The name of the month is often abreviated to Bealtaine but this strictly speaking only refers to the first day of summer (May 1) and the festival associated with that day. This festival was celebrated in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. There were similar festivals held at the same time in the other Celtic countries of Wales, Britanny and Cornwall. Beltane or Beltaine is an ancient Gaelic holiday celebrated on May 1st. ... The Gaels are an ethno-linguistic group in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, whose language is one that is Gaelic (Goidelic), a division of Insular Celtic languages. ... The word pagan is derived from the Latin Paganus, meaning of or from the country. ... Pagans may mean: Paganism, a belief in natural religion. ... Illumination of Earth by Sun on the day of equinox The vernal equinox (or spring equinox) marks the beginning of astronomical spring. ... Illumination of Earth by the sun on the northern hemisphere summer solstice The summer solstice is an astronomical term regarding the position of the sun in relation to the celestial equator. ... Walpurgis Night (Valborgsmässoafton in Swedish, Vappu in Finnish, Volbriöö in Estonian, ValpurÄ£u nakts or ValpurÄ£i in Latvian, Walpurgisnacht in German) is a holiday celebrated on April 30 or May 1, in Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Germany. ... May Day is a name for various holidays celebrated on May 1 (or in the beginning of May). ... Irish (Gaeilge), a Goidelic language spoken in the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, is constitutionally recognized as the first official language of the Republic of Ireland. ... Note: This page contains phonetic information presented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) using Unicode. ... The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is a system of phonetic notation devised by linguists to accurately and uniquely represent each of the wide variety of sounds (phones or phonemes) used in spoken human language. ... The Gaels are an ethno-linguistic group in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, whose language is one that is Gaelic (Goidelic), a division of Insular Celtic languages. ... May 1 is the 121st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (122nd in leap years). ... Look up May in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Irish (Gaeilge), a Goidelic language spoken in the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, is constitutionally recognized as the first official language of the Republic of Ireland. ... May 1 is the 121st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (122nd in leap years). ... Motto: Nemo me impune lacessit (English: No one provokes me with impunity) Scotlands location within Europe Scotlands location within the United Kingdom Languages English, Gaelic, Scots Capital Edinburgh Largest city Glasgow First Minister Jack McConnell Area - Total - % water Ranked 2nd UK 78,782 km² 1. ... A Celtic cross. ... For an explanation of often confusing terms such as Great Britain, Britain, United Kingdom and England, see British Isles (terminology). ... This is about the region in France; for other meanings of Brittany and Bretagne, see Brittany (disambiguation). ... Motto: Onen hag oll (Cornish: One and all) Geography Status Ceremonial and (smaller) Non-metropolitan county Region South West England Population - Total (2004 est. ...


It is a Cross-quarter day, marking the midpoint in the Sun's progress between the Vernal Equinox and Summer Solstice. The astronomical date for this midpoint (Old Beltane) is slightly later, May 5. The festival marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season when the herds of livestock were driven out to summer pastures and mountain grazing lands. The lighting of bonfires on mountains and hills of ritual and political significance was one of the main activities of the festival. A cross-quarter day is a day falling halfway between one of the four main solar events (two solstices and two equinoxes) and the next one. ... The Sun is the spectral type G2V yellow star at the center of Earths solar system. ... Illumination of Earth by Sun on the day of equinox The vernal equinox (or spring equinox) marks the beginning of astronomical spring. ... Illumination of Earth by the sun on the northern hemisphere summer solstice The summer solstice is an astronomical term regarding the position of the sun in relation to the celestial equator. ... Lunar astronomy: the large crater is Daedalus, photographed by the crew of Apollo 11 as they circled the Moon in 1969. ... May 5 is the 125th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (126th in leap years). ...

Contents


Etymology

Beltane derives from the Irish Beáltaine or Scottish Gaelic Bealtuinn; both from Old Irish Beltene "bright fire" from belo-te(p)niâ), where belo- is allied to the English word bale (as in bale-fire), the Anglo-Saxon bael, and also the Lithuanian baltas, meaning "white" or "shining" from which the Baltic takes its name. Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig; IPA: ) is a member of the Goidelic branch of Celtic languages. ... The Anglo-Saxons refers collectively to the groups of Germanic tribes who achieved dominance in southern Britain from the mid-5th century, forming the basis for the modern English nation. ... Baltic can refer to: The Baltic Sea Council of the Baltic Sea States - an intergovernmental organization Baltic sea countries - countries with access to the Baltic Sea The Baltic region (Balticum) Baltic States - the independent countries of Estonia Latvia Lithuania Baltic Republics - term refers to the three Baltic states under the...


In Gaelic the terminal vowel -o (from Belo) was dropped, as shown by numerous other transformations from early or Proto-Celtic to Early Irish, thus the Gaulish god-names Belenos ("bright one") and his partner Belisama. Belenos was probably the same divinity, originally from belo-nos "our shining one", is also from the same source, as was Shakespeare's Cym-beline. The Goidelic languages (also sometimes called the Gaelic languages or collectively Gaelic) are one of two major divisions of modern-day Insular Celtic languages (the other being the Brythonic languages). ... In Celtic mythology, Belenus (also Belinus, Belenos, Belinos, Belinu, Bellinus, Belus, Bel) was a deity worshipped in Gaul, Britain and Celtic areas of Austria. ... In Celtic mythology, Belisama (also Belesama, Belisma) was a goddess worshipped in Britain. ... William Shakespeare—born April 1564; baptised April 26, 1564; died April 23, 1616 (O.S.), May 3, 1616 (N.S.)—has a reputation as the greatest of all writers in English. ... Cymbeline is a play by William Shakespeare. ...


From the same Proto-Celtic roots we get a wide range of other words: the verb beothaich, from Early Celtic belo-thaich (to kindle, light, revive, or re-animate); baos, from Baelos (shining); beòlach (ashes with hot embers), from beò (originally belo) + luathach, "shiny-ashes" or "live-ashes". Proto-Celtic, also called Common Celtic, is the putative ancestor of all the known Celtic languages. ...


Similarly boil, boile came from "fiery madness", through Irish buile, Early Irish baile: and boillsg (gleam); bolg-s-cio-; related to Latin fulgeo, "shine", English effulgent, Lithuanian blizgù, glance, shine, English blink (where the shine causes eyes to shut), Proto-Indo-European bhleg -> fulgeo (Grimms' Law). In this way the Celtic tribe of Belgae in Northern France from which Belgium today takes its name, may derive from the same root. One of its tribes was called the Bellovaci. Some have suggested that the Ancient Irish "Fir Bolg" (i.e. "the Shining Ones") of Celtic mythology may have derived from the same word. Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in the region around Rome called Latium. ... The Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) is the hypothetical common ancestor of the Indo-European languages. ... The Belgae were a group of nations or tribes living in north-eastern Gaul, on the west bank of the Rhine, in the 1st century BC, and later also attested in Britain. ... Bellovaci was listed as a germanic tribe by Caesar as Belgae. ... In Irish mythology the Fir Bolg (Fir Bholg, Firbolg, men of Builg or men of bags, or possibly men with spears, bolg meaning spear - and let us not forget the modern Irish word bolg belly (originally bag)) were one of the races that inhabited the island of Ireland prior to... Celtic mythology is the mythology of Celtic polytheism, the apparent religion of the Iron Age Celts. ...


Origins of Beltane

Early Gaelic sources from around the 10th century state that the Druids would create a need-fire on top of a hill on this day and rush the village's cattle through the fires to purify them and bring luck ("Eadar dà theine Bhealltainn" in Scottish Gaelic, "Between two fires of Beltane"). People would also go between the fires to purify themselves. This was echoed throughout history after Christianization, with lay people instead of Druid priests creating the need-fire. The festival persisted widely up until the 1950s, and in some places the celebration of Beltane continues today. A revived Beltane Fire Festival has been held every year since 1988 during the night of 30 April on Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland and attended by up to 15,000 people (except in 2003 when local council restrictions forced the organisers to hold a private event elsewhere). As a means of recording the passage of time, the 10th century was that century which lasted from 901 to 1000. ... In the Celtic religion, the modern words Druidry or Druidism denote the practices of the ancient druids, the priestly class in ancient Celtic societies through much of Western Europe north of the Alps and in the British Isles. ... Need-fire, or Wild-fire (Ger. ... St Francis Xavier converting the Paravas: a 19th-century image of the docile heathen Ansgar, the 9th century apostle of the North in an 1830 drawing. ... // Events and trends This map shows two essential global spheres during the Cold War in 1959. ... 1988 (MCMLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... April 30 is the 120th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (121st in leap years), with 245 days remaining, as the last day in April. ... The top of Calton Hill with the National Monument and Nelsons Monument Calton Hill is a hill in Edinburgh, Scotland, just to the east of the city centre. ... For other uses, see Edinburgh (disambiguation). ... Motto: Nemo me impune lacessit (English: No one provokes me with impunity) Scotlands location within Europe Scotlands location within the United Kingdom Languages English, Gaelic, Scots Capital Edinburgh Largest city Glasgow First Minister Jack McConnell Area - Total - % water Ranked 2nd UK 78,782 km² 1. ... 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Beltane is a specifically Gaelic holiday, not "Celtic", as other Celtic cultures, such as the Welsh, Bretons, and Gauls, do not celebrate it - though many cultures did celebrate a springtime festival known by various names. A Celtic cross. ... Daffodils. ... Brittany is the name used to represent the ancient state of Brittany. ...


In neopaganism, the name Beltane or Beltaine is used for a sabbat, one of the eight solar holidays, which is celebrated on this day. Although the holiday uses features of the Gaelic Beltane, such as the bonfire, it bears more relation to the Germanic May Day festival, both in its significance (focusing on fertility) and its rituals (such as maypole dancing). High Beltaine is celebrated through a reenactment of intercourse between the May Lord and Lady. Gerald Gardner, the principal originator of the Wiccan religion, referred to the holiday as May Eve. The word pagan is derived from the Latin Paganus, meaning of or from the country. ... In the Wiccan form of neopaganism, a Sabbat is one of the eight major seasonal festivals which make up the Wheel of the Year. ... A bonfire or balefire is a large controlled outdoor fire made from bales of straw or wood. ... May Day is a name for various holidays celebrated on May 1 (or in the beginning of May). ... Dancing around the maypole, in Ã…mmeberg, Sweden The maypole is a tall wooden pole (traditionally of hawthorn or birch), sometimes erected with several long colored ribbons suspended from the top, festooned with flowers, draped in greenery and strapped with large circular wreaths, depending on local and regional variances. ... The cover of Witchcraft Today, in which Gardner made the disputed claim to have encountered religious witchcraft survivals in England. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


Among the neopagan sabbats, Beltane is a cross-quarter day; it is celebrated in the northern hemisphere on May 1 and in the southern hemisphere on November 1. Beltane follows Ostara and precedes Midsummer (see the Wheel of the Year). A cross-quarter day is a day falling halfway between one of the four main solar events (two solstices and two equinoxes) and the next one. ... May 1 is the 121st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (122nd in leap years). ... November 1 is the 305th day of the year (306th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 60 days remaining. ... This article is about the solar holiday. ... Midsummer celebration, Ã…mmeberg, Sweden Midsummer, or Litha as it was known by the ancient Germanic peoples, refers the period of time centered upon the summer solstice and the religious celebrations that accompany it. ... In Neopaganism, the Wheel of the Year is the natural cycle of the seasons, commemorated by the eight Sabbats. ...


Dwelly (1911) says: Edward Dwelly was a Scottish Gaelic lexicographer. ... 1911 (MCMXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (click on link for calendar). ...

"In many parts of the Highlands, the young folks of the district would meet on the moors on 1st May. They cut a table in the green sod, of a round figure, by cutting a trench in the ground of sufficient circumferences to hold the whole company. They then kindled a fire, dressed a repast of eggs and milk of the constituency of custard. They kneaded a cake of oatmeal, which was toasted at the embers against a stone. After the custard was eaten, they divided the cake into as many portions as there were people in the company, as much alike as possible in size and shape. They daubed one of the pieces with charcoal, til it was black all over, and they were then all put into a bonnet together, and each one blindfolded took out a portion. The bonnet holder was entitled to the last bit, and whoever drew the black bit was the person who was compelled to leap three times over the flames. Some people say this was originally to appease a god, whose favour they tried to implore by making the year productive." (Dwelly, 1911, "Bealltuinn")

The Scottish Highlands are the mountainous regions of Scotland north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault. ... Edward Dwelly was a Scottish Gaelic lexicographer. ... 1911 (MCMXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (click on link for calendar). ...

See also

Midsummer celebration, Ã…mmeberg, Sweden Midsummer, or Litha as it was known by the ancient Germanic peoples, refers the period of time centered upon the summer solstice and the religious celebrations that accompany it. ... Illumination of Earth by the sun on the northern hemisphere summer solstice The summer solstice is an astronomical term regarding the position of the sun in relation to the celestial equator. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... Mabon is one of the eight solar holidays or sabbats of American Neopaganism. ... In astronomy, the autumnal equinox signals the beginning of autumn in the northern hemisphere: the moment when the sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading southward; the equinox occurs around September 22–September 24, varying slightly each year according to the 400-year cycle of leap years in the... This article or section contains information that has not been verified and thus might not be reliable. ... Yule was the winter solstice celebration of the Germanic pagans still celebrated by Ásatrúar. ... Illumination of Earth by Sun on the day of the northern hemisphere winter solstice Illumination of Earth by Sun on the day of the southern hemisphere winter solstice In astronomy, the winter solstice is the moment when the earth is at a point in its orbit where one hemisphere is... Imbolc is one of the four principal festivals of the pre-Christian Celtic calendar, associated with fertility ritual, was subsequently adopted as St Brigids Day in the Christian period, and in more recent times has been celebrated as a fire festival, one of eight holidays, festivals (4 Solar and... This article is about the solar holiday. ... In astronomy, the vernal equinox (spring equinox, March equinox, or northward equinox) is the equinox at the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere: the moment when the sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading northward. ... Walpurgis Night (Valborgsmässoafton in Swedish, Vappu in Finnish, Volbriöö in Estonian, ValpurÄ£u nakts or ValpurÄ£i in Latvian, Walpurgisnacht in German) is a holiday celebrated on April 30 or May 1, in Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Germany. ...

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