Beltane

 
 


 
 
Beltane was held on 1 May and marked the beginning of summer. It is said that, to protect cattle from disease, the druids would make two fires "with great incantations" and drive the cattle between them.

The people and their cattle would walk around the bonfire or between the two 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 the cattle themselves would be decorated with yellow May flowers, perhaps because they evoked fire. In parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush: a thorn bush decorated with flowers, ribbons and bright shells. Holy wells were also visited, while Beltane dew was thought to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness.
 
 

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