April 30: May Eve & Beltane

BeltaneIt’s April 30, which as you surely know means it’s May Eve, otherwise known as the Feast of Beltane: A celebration typically beginning at sundown and heralding the arrival of the summer.

Beltane is the traditional Gaelic May Day celebration. In the old Gaelic calendar, the four seasons were as follows: Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh which began around the 1st of November, February, May and August respectively. As it was the summer festival, Beltane was typically celebrated with a variety of fertility rituals intended to appease the sí, the fairy spirits of the world, and bless the summer’s crops.

So, what rituals were commonly performed at a Beltane celebration? Well, as with any good party there was dancing, singing, drinking and other forms of revelry. Floral wreaths, bouquets and garlands were common festive garb for Beltane night, and the tradition of dancing around the maypole comes from Beltane celebrations. However, the one Beltane tradition that hasn’t really leaked into most contemporary spring/summer celebrations is the good old fashioned bonfire. The traditional Beltane bonfire would be lit by creating friction between two pieces of wood with the intention of producing a particularly potent fire. When the fire burned out, the ashes would be taken and spread into the soil of nearby farmers’ fields. In addition to the big bonfire, there would also be smaller fires that men would jump over as a personal fertility ritual.

Beltane is still celebrated by modern Pagans and Wiccans, so in that spirit, today we shall make a White Magic. This cocktail is a grapey, transparent concoction that’s a perfect refresher for the warming season.

White Magic

  • 2 ounces White Grape Vodka
  • 4 ounces white grape juice
  • 4 ounces ginger ale

Pour all ingredients into an ice filled highball glass and stir.

Tomorrow: Robin of Locksley


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