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Beltane 2023: Date, History, Facts, Activities

The word 'Beltane' is derived from the Irish term 'Bel,' which means 'fire.' Therefore, this holiday should be commemorated by igniting a bonfire.

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Beltane, or May Day, is annually observed on May 1. It occurs halfway between the spring equinox and the upcoming summer solstice and is one of the eight Sabbats. This day is associated with the upcoming summer and fertility. It signifies the culmination of spring and the commencement of summer, when the Earth’s energies are believed to be at their peak. The celebration includes bonfires, dancing, and fertility rites. Celts used to ignite two bonfires in antiquity because they believed that doing so would purify and increase fertility. People believed that passing cattle between the two fires would purify the cattle and guarantee the fertility of the herd.

The background of Beltane

The word ‘Beltane’ is derived from the Irish term ‘Bel,’ which means ‘fire.’ Therefore, this holiday should be commemorated by igniting a bonfire. The fires serve as a reminder of the sun’s increasing strength and as an opportunity to purify and revitalise the community. This practise began to decline in antiquity, and cities and villages gradually abandoned it in the nineteenth century. The last recorded Beltane fire in Helmsdale occurred in 1820. In the 1870s, illumination ceased in the Shetland Isles. Edinburgh, which had celebrated Beltane since time immemorial and lighted the fires during Arthur’s reign, ceased doing so at the turn of the twentieth century.

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In 1988, a resurgence of the famous tradition occurred. Once again, Beltane fires were ignited in Edinburgh. Angus Farquhar led the procession, which was followed by the first Beltane performance by the industrial band Test Dept. They reestablished a sense of community and an appreciation for the seasonal cycle. Within five years, both the number of performers and audience members increased.

People came to support the festival’s continuation. Calton Hill became the new location for Beltane festivities. Angus Farquhar organised his final Beltane in 1992. The Beltane Fire Society was established and assumed his mantle. In 2001, the festival hired its first paid production manager to coordinate the event’s expansion. By 1992, the festival’s audience had reached 10,000 people. In 2004, they began charging for admission to the event.

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party and celebrate with others

It is a day to celebrate the sun and summertime. This day, harness the sun’s vitality and dance with other people.

Create flames

Fires signify holiness! On this day, you can therefore light fires to purify yourself and to greet the fertility goddess.

reintegrate with nature

Go camping and appreciate the beauty of nature. It is a day to celebrate and give thanks to the fertility deity.


During Beltane, the Green Man, who represents nature, reaches his greatest strength and ushers in summer.

The day represents, according to Wiccan beliefs, the conflict between the May Queen and the Winter Queen.

Other significant Celtic festivals include Samhain, Imbolc, and Lughnasadh.

The Edinburgh Beltane fire festival is one of the most renowned celebrations, and it occurs on April 30 night.

In the northern hemisphere, it is observed from 30 April to 1 May, whereas in the southern hemisphere, it is observed from 31 October to 1 November.


Year Date Day
2023 May 1 Monday
2024 May 1 Wednesday
2025 May 1 Thursday
2026 May 1 Friday
2027 May 1 Saturday
Arshiya Khan
Arshiya Khan
Arshiya Khan is a Commerce graduate who loves to write on general and trending topics.

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