Beltane – Traditions and Celebrating – Decorating Tips for Your Beltane Festival and Feasting Table
Beltane kicks off the merry month of May! In ancient times, festivities began before the 1st of May upon the evening of the last day in April. Old world pagans continue this tradition today in the 21st Century. And what a splendid time for a celebration! Whether it be a small gathering with family and friends in the backyard or a large party, there are a myriad of ways to create a festive environment and ambiance for your Beltane celebration.
The fire festival ion Beltane is celebrated with bonfires, feasting, dancing around the Maypole and lots of sexual energy. Because Maypoles represent the phallic symbol, they are erected into the ground and danced around to celebrate the masculine aspect of the sabbat. Also recognized as Mayday, this sabbat is a time of sacred fertility. In wiccan tradition, the Goddess and the God perform the Great Rite, sacred sexuality, making the land lush and green, making this holiday an ideal day for handfastings and weddings.
Live music is great at a Beltane celebration. Perhaps an acoustic ensemble or a drum circle. If live music is not an option, choose a few CD’s. Whatever your guests and you enjoy is fine, or perhaps some old Celtic music.
Creating an ambiance for your Beltane Party can be fun and the end result whimsical and elegant. I’ve always wanted to erect a big Maypole in my backyard, but my space doesn’t allow me to take on such a task. However, you can adorn trees and other outside structures with ribbons, colorful flags and banners, springtime colored flowers (silk or real flowers), use your imagination! The possibilities are endless.
Hosting a elegant evening celebration and feast for your family and friends? Easy! Beltane is also known as the Festival of Flowers, and the appearance of flowers around this time of year heralds the beginning of summer. Create a beautiful feasting table with elegant centerpieces of spring and summer flowers and bowls of fresh fruit and berries. Above the feasting table, hang a pole decorated with flowers, moss, flowing satin ribbons of Beltane, strands of white lights, colorful fabric banners and anything else that you an think of. Or maypoles right on the table with silver candle stick holders. I prefer not to use paper plates and plastic forks when serving guests. There are places that rent everything you’ll need to make this occasion memorable for your guests. Plates, wine glasses, flatware, linens, coffee service, chocolate fountains, right down to tables, chairs and tents for your party. And its not as expensive as you might think.
Celebrations begin the eve before Beltane, and the lighting of bonfires traditionally begin in the evening on 30th April and continue throughout the night and into the next day. In old Ireland, the Beltane bonfire or bale fire, was lit upon the Hill of Uisneach. Torches were lit from the bale fire, then carried down to the village where villagers would then use their torches taking flame from the main fire to light their own bonfires and hearth fires. The fires of Beltane represents the return of the light as the days lengthen and summer begins its journey upon the earth. Renewal and purification rites are performed by jumping the bonfire. In medieval times, two fires were lit side by side and villagers drove their cattle between the fires as a symbol of purification and protection of the herd as well as a blessing of abundance and a bountiful harvest ahead.
Today, these same traditions continue with the bonfire serving as the focal gathering place where we carry on with music, merriment, dancing and love rites. Old world pagan traditions included lighting the fire with the Nine Sacred Woods. White Magick Alchemy offers an beautiful blending of these Nine Sacred Woods in packages as well as our Fires of Beltane Sacred Casting Herbs. Use our Nine Sacred Woods to start your fire or toss a bountiful handful of our Casting Herbs right into your Beltane bonfire! And theres plenty to go around too! Our Fires of Beltane Sacred Casting Herbs come in a jumbo 16 ounce jar. For large parties, feel free to contact us and we can create a big batch for you in bulk that you can package up and give to your guests as a offering for their own bonfire.
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Photos via White Magick Alchemy, Pagan Path