Beltane has Celtic roots and was a significant celebration in the pagan calendar. It was a time to rejoice over the return of the sun and the start of the summer season. The celebration was called after Belenus, the Celtic god of the sun and light.
Beltane celebrations also included matchmaking and fertility rites. Young people would circle the Maypole, a phallic emblem denoting fecundity. Couples would also jump over fires together to show their love for one another.
In modern times, Beltane is still celebrated by neo-pagan and Wiccan communities around the world. It is seen as a time to honor the earth and the renewal of life that comes with the arrival of spring.
The Maypole dance is one of the most well-known Beltane rituals. The Maypole is a tall wooden pole decorated with ribbons, flowers, and other spring symbols. People dance around the Maypole, weaving ribbons in and out of their movements. The dance is intended to symbolise the union of the deity and goddess, as well as the fertility of the ground.
Another Beltane tradition is the setting of fires. This is done to honour the sun and to urge it to stay warm and develop throughout the summer. Fires were also thought to have cleansing properties and were used to ward off evil spirits.
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