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Beltane Customs and Folklore

Beltane Customs, Traditions and Legends


Beltane is a time of year rich in tradition and customs. The May Day season has been marked for hundreds of years, and has been a season that agricultural communities often saw as a time of celebration. Learn about the traditions and folklore associated with this mid-spring holiday.


1. Beltane History

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Beltane kicks off the merry month of May, and has a long history. This fire festival is celebrated on May 1 (in the northern hemisphere) with bonfires, Maypoles, dancing, and lots of good old fashioned sexual energy. The Celts honored the fertility of the gods with gifts and offerings, sometimes including animal or human sacrifice.


2. Beltane Legends and Lore

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There are a lot of myths and folklore surrounding May Day, or Beltane. Learn about some of the stories about this magical, mystical spring Sabbat!


3. Fertility Deities of Beltane

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Beltane has been a time of fertility celebration for thousands of years, in innumerable cultures. Learn about some of the different deities that can be honored during this spring Sabbat.


4. The Fae at Beltane

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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. It wasn’t uncommon for a tale to relate the story of a human being who got too daring with the Fae -- and ultimately paid their price for his or her curiosity! In many stories, there are different types of faeries.


5. Faeries in the Garden

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In some NeoPagan traditions, the Fae are often welcomed and celebrated. In particular, the Beltane season is believed to be a time when the veil between our world and that of the Fae is thin. If your tradition is one that celebrates the magical link between mortals and Faeries, you may want to take advantage of the fertile Beltane season to invite the Fae into your garden. Here are some ways you can make your outdoor space welcoming to the Fae.


6. Who is the Green Man?

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The Green Man appears in many forms in British and Celtic myth. What is the Green Man, and what does he really represent?


7. The Magical Language of Flowers

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During the nineteenth century, it became popular to send someone a message using only flowers. Each one had its own symbolism, so the type of flower you sent was very important. Here's a partial list of some popular flowers and their secret meanings


8. The May Queen Legend

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In some Wiccan traditions, the battle for dominance is not between an Oak King and a Holly King, but in fact between the May Queen and the Queen of Winter. Learn about the cycle of the triple goddess, and her aspects as Maiden, Mother, and Crone


9. Morris Dancing and Mummer's Plays

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In rural English villages, Morris dancing and Mummer's plays are popular around the Beltane season. What's the history behind these unusual performance pieces?


10. What is Walpurgisnacht?

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In parts of Germanic Europe, Walpurgisnacht is celebrated each year around April 30 - right around the time of Beltane. The festival is named for Walpurga, a Christian saint, who spent a number of years as a missionary in the Frankish empire. Over time, the celebration of St. Walpurga blended with the Viking celebrations of spring, and Walpurgisnacht was born.


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