Beltane

Helpful Information

Date: April 30th, May 1st

Other Names: Roodmas, May Day

Pronunciations: Bell-tayne

Many Wiccans and Pagans celebrate Beltane. It is one of eight solar Sabbats. This holiday incorporates traditions from the Gaelic Bealtaine, such as the bonfire, but it bears more relation to the Germanic May Day festival, both in its significance (focusing on fertility) and its rituals (such as May pole dancing). Some traditions celebrate this holiday on May 1 or May day, whiles others begin their celebration the eve before or April 30th.

Beltane has long been celebrated with feasts and rituals. The name means fire of Bel; Belinos being one name for the Sun God, whose coronation feast we now celebrate. As summer begins, weather becomes warmer, and the plant world blossoms, an exuberant mood prevails. In old Celtic traditions it was a time of unabashed sexuality and promiscuity where marriages of a year and a day could be undertaken but it is rarely observed in that manner in modern times.

In the old Celtic times, young people would spend the entire night in the woods "A-Maying," and then dance around the phallic Maypole the next morning. Older married couples were allowed to remove their wedding rings (and the restrictions they imply) for this one night. May morning is a magical time for wild water (dew, flowing streams, and springs) which is collected and used to bathe in for beauty, or to drink for health.

The Christian religion had only a poor substitute for the life-affirming Maypole -- namely, the death-affirming cross. Hence, in the Christian calendar, this was celebrated as 'Roodmas'. In Germany, it was the feast of Saint Walpurga, or 'Walpurgisnacht'. An alternative date around May 5 (Old Beltane), when the sun reaches 15 degrees Taurus, is sometimes employed by Covens. (Both 'Lady Day' and 'Ostara' are names incorrectly assigned to this holiday by some modern traditions of Wicca.)

The May pole was a focal point of the old English village rituals. Many people would rise at the first light of dawn to go outdoors and gather flowers and branches to decorate their homes. Women traditionally would braid flowers into their hair. Men and women alike would decorate their bodies. Beltane marks the return of vitality, of passion. Ancient Pagan traditions say that Beltane marks the emergence of the young God into manhood. Stirred by the energies at work in nature, he desires the Goddess. They fall in love, lie among the grasses and blossoms, and unite. The Goddess becomes pregnant of the God. To celebrate, a wedding feast, for the God and Goddess must be prepared. Let Them guide you! Breads and cereals are popular. Try oatmeal cakes or cookies sweetened with a dab of honey. Dairy foods are again appropriate... just make a lovely wedding feast and you are sure to enjoy yourself! An early morning walk through a local park or forest could be fun for everyone. Gather up some plants or flowers to display in your home. Mom and daughter could braid their hair, and weave in a few tender blossoms.

Child Activities

  1. Gathering fresh flowers is an old tradition of this Sabbat. Children can weave a paper basket (or a simple cone shaped one with a handle) and fill their basket with flowers. The baskets can then be hung on the doorknob of a friend or neighbor's house to help brighten that person's day as well.
  2. Herbal sachets are also easy for children to construct and they make wonderful gifts too! Take a small square of fabric and pile dried herbs or flowers in the center. Gather up the edges and tie it closed with a ribbon.
  3. Another fun projet is to make a floral garland. Gather wild flowers or purchase a couple of bouquets of flowers (daisies are easy to work with). Take a pin and, at the point where the stem meets the bud, make a small slit. Slide the stem of another flower into the slit. Then, make a slit on that flower, and slide another in. Continue this until you have a long train of flowers.

Your floral basket, garland or herbal sachet can be given away or simply hung in a tree as a gift to the God and Goddess.

Recipes

Oatmeal Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup raisins or chopped nuts

Beat milk, oil and vinegar in mixing bowl until smooth. Add oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and mix well. Add nuts or raisins turn into loaf pan bake at 350 for 50 - 60 minutes or until done depending on the oven.

Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 1 unbaked pie shell
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • dash of red pepper
  • 3/4 cup gruyere cheese
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup finely chopped apple, peeled and cored
  • 7 1/2 oz crab or mushrooms or peppers or whatever you would like

Bake pie shell at 450 for 10 minutes or until slightly brown. Beat eggs, half and half, salt and red pepper. Set aside. Combine cheese, flour, crab or mushrooms etc and sprinkle into the bottom of the pie shell. Pour the egg mixture over it. Bake at 450 degrees uncovered for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Yogurt

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tbsp. prepared yogurt
  • 1 quart skim milk
  • 1/2 cup instant non fat milk powder

Allow yogurt to reach room temp. Bring milk to scalding then cool to 110-115 degrees. Add dry milk and pour into bowl. Cover then wrap in large towel. Set in warm place for 6 to 8 hours. When semi solid store in fridge. Add fruit when you just before serving

May Wine

White wine with a pinch of woodruff and fresh strawberries.