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Beltane, also known as Cétamain, is a festival to celebrate the beginning of summer in Ireland and Scotland. This fire festival is observed the first day in May with bonfires, Maypoles, parade, dancing, and feasting.
See the fact file below for more information on the Beltane or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Beltane worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
ETYMOLOGY AND ORIGIN
- The term “Beltane” is derived from the Celtic god named Bel and Gaelic word “teine” which means fire. Together Beltane means “Bright Fire”, thus celebrated as the Fire Festival with bonfires to honour the sun.
- In ancient Rome, the first three days in May were celebrated as the festival of flowers, known as Floralia. Participants wore flowers in their hair and gathered for communal dancing, feasting, and role playing.
- According to lore in the British Isles, the Green Man was the one who welcomed the beginning of summer during the pre-Christian era. Today, some old cathedrals in Europe have the Green Man’s face as ornaments despite the prohibition of such pagan images.
- In some Wiccan beliefs, this day marks the battle between the May Queen and the Queen of the Winter. Moreover, Norse legend depicts this time as the day when the god Odin hung from an Ash tree for nine days.
- A number of deities, including Artemis the Greek goddess of hunting, Bes the Egyptian household protection god, Roman party god Bacchus, Cernunnos the Celtic god of vegetation, Roman goddess Flora, Greek goddess of fertility Hera, Greek agricultural god Pan, and Aztec fertility goddess Xochiquetzal are revered during this festival.
- Astronomically, Beltane falls in between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice, the season called cross quarter days. For ancient Celts, Beltane was the start of summer since they believed in eight distinct seasons, instead of four.
- For them, the Wheel of the Year turned during Beltane wherein energy was growing.
TRADITIONS AND PRACTICES
- Like other Pagan sabbats, Beltane is celebrated with rituals of both ancient and contemporary influence. One of the common symbols used during this sabbat is the Maypole. Many contemporary Pagans associated fertility of the earth with this symbol since participants are usually young. For centuries, maypoles are said to be decorated with flowers and greenery like today’s practice. In the early twentieth century, dances under the maypole with colored ribbons tied on top of the pole became popular in Great Britain.
- Another Beltane tradition is Morris dancing in which participants listen and dance to the tune of drums and other instruments. In the mid-16th century, Morris dancing was labeled as “devilish” by the Catholic Church, but was revived in popularity in the 19th century, along with the Maypole.
- In addition, many rural communities do the tradition of May King and May Queen during this Pagan Midwinter celebration. May baskets filled with sweets and flowers are also set up during Beltane.
- Days before the proliferation of Christianity, ancient Pagans used to decorate themselves with greenery and flowers during Beltane, thus creating the tradition of Jack in the Green.
- At Beltane, ancient Celts traditionally drive a cattle between two balefires for purification and protection before the summer pastures officially begin.
- Being the fire festival, Beltane is celebrated with huge bonfires to celebrate the power of the sun. Rituals include communal dancing around the bonfire, burning of effigies, and fire dancers.
- Aside from courtship and romance, Beltane is the time to celebrate love and sexualty associated to the god and goddess of marriage.
- Beltane foods include sweets like honey, chocolates, and fruit pastries which represent love. Spicy food such as hot sauces and peppers symbolize the element of fire. In addition, maybowlor – may wine made of non-alcoholic grape juice or ginger ale – is customarily served during this event.
- Others dress trees usually hawthorn, birch, and rowan.
- To celebrate the beginning of summer, thousands of people gather on Calton Hill in Edinburgh every 30th of April. Long processions to the hill are participated in by people dressed as May Queen and the Green Man.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Beltane across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Beltane worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Beltane, also known as Cétamain, which is a festival to celebrate the beginning of summer in Ireland and Scotland. This fire festival is observed the first day in May with bonfires, Maypoles, parade, dancing, and feasting.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Beltane Facts
- Beltane in Letters
- Pagan Sabbats
- Polling Maypole
- In the Name of Gods
- Powerful Season
- Fire Festivals
- Beltane Crossword
- Burning Bonfire
- The Green Man
- Beltane v. May Day
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Link will appear as Beltane Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, April 12, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.