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Daily News17-05-2010
Beltane Day...

May 1st marks Beltane day, which was originally an ancient festival, celebrated in the British Isles of Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.
Similar festivals were held in Wales, and Cornwall, as well as in Brittany, which is now part of France.

Beltane marks the beginning of the summer season. As a major part of the festival, Druids lit bonfires on the top ofhills and drove cattle through the fires to purify them and bring luck. People would also pass between two fires for the same reasons. Beltane was also celebrated by hanging May Boughs on the doors and windows of houses and the erection of May Bushes in farmyards. The bushescomprised a branch of rowanand mayor sometimesfurze was used.

Today, Beltane is observed by Pagans in various ways. Some celebrate in a manner as close as possible to how the Ancient and Modern Celts have marked the festival. Many observe the traditional bonfire rites, whilst some decorate May Bushes and prepare festival foods.

Other groups observe the holiday with rituals from diverse sources. Neopagan Reconstructionists usually celebrate Beltane when local hawthorn trees are in bloom, or on the Full Moon that falls closest to this event, which in this case was on the 28th of April.

Othergroups visit holy wells to leave offerings to the spirits or deities that dwell there. More creative folks may spend time making equal-armed rowan crosses which are then used in rituals performed for the blessing and protection of the household and land.

Wiccans celebrate a different version of Beltane which they view as a Sabbat- a Solar holiday. Wiccans observing the holiday may follow the Celtic tradition of bonfires but they may also refer to other cultural pastimes such as Maypole dancing. Wherever you are, may your Beltane fire burn brightly!

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