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Thread: Happy Beltain

  1. #1
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    Happy Beltain

    Here's some information I gathered regarding today's date in Celtic tradition. Of course, I'll now be told how wrong it is, but corrections are welcome and here it is anyway:

    Beltane or Beltain (/ˈbɛl.teɪn/)[5][6] is the Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on 1 May, or about halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. In Irish the name for the festival day is Lá Bealtaine ([l̪ˠaː ˈbʲal̪ˠt̪ˠənʲə]), in Scottish Gaelic Là Bealltainn ([l̪ˠaː ˈpjaul̪ˠt̪ɪɲ]) and in Manx Gaelic Laa Boaltinn/Boaldyn. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasadh—and is similar to the Welsh Calan Mai.
    Beltane is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and is associated with important events in Irish mythology. Also known as Cétshamhain ("first of summer"), it marked the beginning of summer and it was when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled, and their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around or between bonfires, and sometimes leap over the flames or embers. All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Beltane bonfire. These gatherings would be accompanied by a feast, and some of the food and drink would be offered to the aos sí. Doors, windows, byres and livestock would be decorated with yellow May flowers, perhaps because they evoked fire. In parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush: typically a thorn bush or branch decorated with flowers, ribbons, bright shells and rushlights. Holy wells were also visited, while Beltane dew was thought to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness. Many of these customs were part of May Day or Midsummer festivals in other parts of Great Britain and Europe.
    Beltane celebrations had largely died out by the mid-20th century, although some of its customs continued and in some places it has been revived as a cultural event. Since the late 20th century, Celtic neopagans and Wiccans have observed Beltane, or something based on it, as a religious holiday. Neopagans in the Southern Hemisphere celebrate Beltane on or around 1 November.
    Rev'd Father Bill White: Retired Parish Priest & Elementary Headmaster, lover of God, people (most of them!) dogs, joy, humour & clarity. Legion Padre, theologian, teacher, philosopher, linguist, traditionalist, bon-vivant, encourager of hearts & souls & a firm believer in dignity, decency, & duty. A proud Canadian Sinclair.

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    I have no idea if your information is right or wrong Bill. To be honest I am not aware of any celebrations of Beltane North or South of the Border. "May Day" has some significance as it is a public holiday(held on the first Monday after 1 May) in the UK and I think there are some places----in England----where people dance around the Maypole on the day. For most here, its probably just another day?
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jock Scot View Post
    I have no idea if your information is right or wrong Bill. To be honest I am not aware of any celebrations of Beltane North or South of the Border. "May Day" has some significance as it is a public holiday(held on the first Monday after 1 May) in the UK and I think there are some places----in England----where people dance around the Maypole on the day. For most here, its probably just another day?
    Oh absolutely, Jock. This is Celtic history from the time of the Druids and perhaps further back.

    I just share it because an old teacher like me, with interest in various religious traditions and history can't contain himself.
    Rev'd Father Bill White: Retired Parish Priest & Elementary Headmaster, lover of God, people (most of them!) dogs, joy, humour & clarity. Legion Padre, theologian, teacher, philosopher, linguist, traditionalist, bon-vivant, encourager of hearts & souls & a firm believer in dignity, decency, & duty. A proud Canadian Sinclair.

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    It never hurts to be reminded of our distant past Bill.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Father Bill View Post
    Oh absolutely, Jock. This is Celtic history from the time of the Druids and perhaps further back.

    I just share it because an old teacher like me, with interest in various religious traditions and history can't contain himself.
    Edinburgh...

    Here's to your inner pagan, Father.
    (I never thought that I'd be putting that character string together.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYkC2aXp5wM
    Those ancient U Nialls from Donegal were a randy bunch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ninehostages View Post
    Edinburgh...

    Here's to your inner pagan, Father.
    (I never thought that I'd be putting that character string together.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYkC2aXp5wM

    Thank you for the interesting juxtaposition. You gave me a smile.

    Not really sure what I've just watched. I think the best indication is at the end where it is credited to some production company I've never heard of. My best guess is that it's one of those situations somewhat like Ren Faires where an organization puts on some sort of spectacle in the name of something else or some group who would never recognize it if they attended or saw it; flashy, spectacular, somewhat creepy, and totally disconnected from any historical accuracy or existence.
    Rev'd Father Bill White: Retired Parish Priest & Elementary Headmaster, lover of God, people (most of them!) dogs, joy, humour & clarity. Legion Padre, theologian, teacher, philosopher, linguist, traditionalist, bon-vivant, encourager of hearts & souls & a firm believer in dignity, decency, & duty. A proud Canadian Sinclair.

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  12. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Father Bill View Post
    Thank you for the interesting juxtaposition. You gave me a smile.

    Not really sure what I've just watched. I think the best indication is at the end where it is credited to some production company I've never heard of. My best guess is that it's one of those situations somewhat like Ren Faires where an organization puts on some sort of spectacle in the name of something else or some group who would never recognize it if they attended or saw it; flashy, spectacular, somewhat creepy, and totally disconnected from any historical accuracy or existence.
    Nobody has a clue what "Druidic" rites were like or if they even held them. They wrote nothing down and the only descriptive reference of them that is more than a few words long dating from Classical times was an unflattering one by Tacitus. He complained about their bloody ritual and how it justified their conquest by Caesar (which is rich coming from a city-state that had humans ripped apart daily in arenae for mass entertainment). It is pure theatrical and recent invention. They don't even have any Druid archaeology, yet and don't expect any to turn up. Whatever "Beltane" ritual was like was crushed out of the Britons during four centuries of heavy Roman military occupation, followed by the earliest Christian conversions in Western Europe.

    I get a giggle out of the "Druid" hippies that turn up at Stonehenge every solstace to "continue Druidic worship at the place". Well, Stonehenge was already as old as the Roman Colosseum is to us today when the first Druids happened upon Salisbury. If the Druids really did use the place for something-or-other, it would have been as phoney baloney as what today's drug addled mystics do every year. Stonehenge is not a Druid temple. It was built by the people-before-the-people-before the Celtic Britons. They likely didn't leave a folk tradition of the place behind either as the newest DNA archaeology shows that they vanished without their seed continuing on in the British population. The next wave of "Beaker People" who inherited Stonehenge were there to stay but the brown skinned Neolithic people who built the great stone monuments in Western Europe seem to have died out (killed off?). We don't know what they believed. What we do know is that the Celts had little interest in the Solstices and had their feasts at Samhain (Halloween) and Beltane (May Day).

    It's harmless, really. The Roman Church borrowed what they could from the remnants of that culture. The Covenanters would be burned those kids in Edinburgh as witches, though.
    Those ancient U Nialls from Donegal were a randy bunch.

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    Witches were hung - it was heretics that were burned, for their own good, of course.

    My morris side would usually go out and dance on Mayday, as there would usually be events and happenings now it is a bank holiday weekend, but that has not happened for a while now - though individuals and households did go out and some recorded their solo commemorations to put on You Tube.

    Maybe next year - though I ought to start practicing for it soon, otherwise my joints will have lost all flexibility.

    Anne the Pleater
    I presume to dictate to no man what he shall eat or drink or wherewithal he shall be clothed."
    -- The Hon. Stuart Ruaidri Erskine, The Kilt & How to Wear It, 1901.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pleater View Post
    Witches were hung - it was heretics that were burned, for their own good, of course.

    My morris side would usually go out and dance on Mayday, as there would usually be events and happenings now it is a bank holiday weekend, but that has not happened for a while now - though individuals and households did go out and some recorded their solo commemorations to put on You Tube.

    Maybe next year - though I ought to start practicing for it soon, otherwise my joints will have lost all flexibility.

    Anne the Pleater
    Lilias Addie was buried in the deep part of a tidal flat near Fife under a big slab of rock lest she tries to get up and celebrate Beltane.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilias_Adie

    No word as to whether she could sew or not.
    Those ancient U Nialls from Donegal were a randy bunch.

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