What to do During Beltane


Photo of a maypole at Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles. Photo courtesy of wikipedia user Jengod at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Maypole_in_

Sidney Ambrose, Staff Reporter

What Beltane is About:

Beltane [Bell-tane] is a holiday, typically on or around May 1st, that is the midpoint between Spring and Summer and can be traced to some of the earliest Irish literature and is associated with Irish mythology. Along with this it was historically celebrated by the Irish and Scottish Gaels, but is now celebrated by the Irish, Scottish, Manx, Galician, Wiccans, and Celtic Modern-Pagans. 

The name Beltane can be compared to the Celtic phrase “the fires of Bel” which is likely referring to the Celtic sun god Belenus (also written as Belenos and Belinus). Beltane is associated with fertility of crops and livestock, and can be a symbol of sexuality with things such as the May Pole (more info on that in what symbolizes Beltane) and is one of the four great fire festivals that are celebrated year-round (Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain.) 

This is a great time to celebrate your garden growing and blooming, and giving gifts to your friends, family, and the Fair Folk that inhabit the area. Finally in the section of what foods to eat, there is a food that resembles Green Man, who is a Pagan spirit that resembles life, death, and re-birth, and is one of the oldest Pagan symbols that can still be found in Christian churches. Feel free to research him if you’re curious, but I just wanted to let you know now so you don’t get confused later on.

What to do During Beltane:


There are many things to cook and bake for Beltane, mainly because it’s the celebration of your garden growing, so there is not much you can’t make during this time. For instance, if you want to make a Green Man Cake, Scottish Oatcake (Bannocks), or Candied Flower Petals you can look at Recipes for Beltane (Green Man is 1/7, Candied Flowers are 5/7, and Bannocks are 7/7). Besides this there are many other recipes to try and make are listed below:

Dreamy Nighttime Drink

Garlic Butter Recipe

Spring beef and potato stew

Bannocks (Scottish Oatcakes)

Honey Lavender Scones

Beltane Honey Cakes Recipe

Cauliflower Dill Kugel

Rosemary Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

Roasted New Potatoes With Parmesan And Fresh Herbs

Easy Rhubarb Crisp

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam  


Beltane has some great activities to do, whether you want to spend time with your loved ones or by yourself. You can plant/buy flowers, give gifts to Fair Folk/Fae (it’s always good to do more research if you’re interested in doing so you don’t accidentally make a wrong move), you can read the Coming of the Tuatha De Danann if you want to get more familiar with Irish Mythology, and perform divination like tarot or runes (this can be from someone or doing it yourself.) Traditionally Celts would light 2 bonfires and pass through them with their cattle as a way to bless, protect, and increase fertility, now people use fire as a way to harness the power of the sun and cleanse the community, so it’s common to see people leap over fire and dance with it if you were to visit a Beltane festival. 

You can also weave flowers into your hair, create flower crowns, and even create May Baskets which are commonly used for May Day. This is a good time to give gifts to people in need, your loved ones, elderly people etc. in case they aren’t able to celebrate the activities themselves and/or to wish them a happy and healthy season, typically they’re giving anonymously, where you knock on the persons door and run away, but if you aren’t able to do that it’s totally okay to hand them the gift in person.

What Symbolize Beltane:

Finally we’re going to be talking about what symbolizes Beltane. There’s the standard figures like bonfires, dancing, fertility, May baskets, but also things like antlers/horns, acorns, seeds, chalices, honey, oats, milk, and swords/arrows. There are also things like Emeralds, Garnet, all types of flowers, Thistle, and incense like Frankincense, Jasmine, and Musk. The main thing to know about here is the May Pole, a common figure of Beltane. The maypole was originally a tree with streamers tied to it at the top that stretched all the way to the bottom, so people could grab onto them and form patterns with them as they danced. Some people like to think the maypole is a way to honor the spirits that pushed the crops up from the ground, and a way to represent where the sky meets the earth and how the 4 cardinal directions meet, but the Puritans had other ideas. 

The Puritans were the first people to see it as a phallic shape, and because people were drinking and dancing and kissing, it was a total no-go for them. They believed this could cause chaos and sin, so the most logical way they thought of was to ban the maypole and everything it represents. They cut all of them down, killed or exiled the people who organized the event, and set towns on fire/shot people. This ended up killing over 400 Native Americans in a single night. 

This was a very serious tragedy and one that should not be overlooked when seeing how different celebrations and beliefs were targeted by others, and how that made people perceive each other. Unfortunately for the Puritans, that didn’t work at all and now in modern times it’s still a huge symbol of what Beltane and Spring represents, so lucky for us we have our dancing trees and parties, and too bad for the Puritans because they can’t bust a move like the rest of us. I guess that’s what you get for committing atrocities in the name of your very clouded and ignorant judgment.

With that being said, I hope you found this informational and/or interesting to read. I know the more I looked into these holidays the stranger and cooler it got. I hope everyone has an amazing Beltane and I’ll be looking forward to sharing the next holiday soon!