SATURDAY, MAY 1: Many Pagans celebrate a derivative of the ancient Beltane festival (or Samhain, in the Southern Hemisphere). Long ago, Bealtaine was a festival in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, when the summer season began and livestock was taken out to summer pastures. In Ireland, an enormous fire was traditionally lit, and attendees would either leap over the fire for good luck or pass between the two fires for good fortune. While fires burned throughout the night, ancient pagans would frolic in the forests and sometimes dance around Maypoles, basking in the joy of spring and new life. (Wikipedia has an extensive history.)
Since the mid-1980s, the Beltane Fire Festival has taken place in Edinburgh, Scotland, on the evening of April 30—and this year, approximately 12,000 people were expected to attend. This modern revival is primarily an exhibition of drama and art. Modern Pagan rites vary.
May 1 is also May Day, or International Workers’ Day.
(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)
(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)