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  • Writer's pictureDee Crute

Beltane – A Celebration of Spring

By Haile Reed

Beltane, celebrated on 1st May, is the halfway point between the Spring Equinox (Ostara) and Summer Solstice (Litha). It is a time associated with light, fire, and fertility—not only of the land but also of the mind and spirit and can often herald a time of increased creativity.

The name comes from the Gaelic for 'fires of Bel' (a Celtic God). It's a celebration that heralds the coming of Summer, filling the air with hope and excitement and igniting a spark of joy and anticipation in our hearts. As we head towards Beltane, it's easy to notice that the light is building momentum daily, bringing with it the promise of longer, brighter days and the joy of Summer.

Various European cultures, each with their own unique versions, come together to celebrate the ancient Beltane festival. In England, for instance, May Day is marked by the crowning of a May Queen and the traditional dance around the maypole with ribbons. These customs, each with their own historical significance and charm, contribute to the rich tapestry of Beltane celebrations.

You can also still find many towns and villages that hold 'well-dressing' ceremonies to honour the sacred waters of the season. It is a testament to the festival's ancient roots and our shared human connection that so many traditions have endured, and we still desire to celebrate nature at this time of year.

One of the most enchanting aspects of Beltane is the dawn chorus, which is now reaching its seasonal crescendo. Sunday, 5th May, is 'International Dawn Chorus Day', a celebration that has grown from a small event in my native Birmingham to one enjoyed in over 80 countries.

A perfect way to celebrate May Day is to rise a little early, make a cup of tea, and open your window to immerse yourself in the sweet, melodic symphony of the birds, step out into the garden, witness the early sunrise, and experience the birds awakening. I often find a bold Robin or curious Blackbird joining me.

 As Spring unfolds, the world around us is in a constant state of transformation. The trees are awakening; my apple trees are full of blossom, the lilac is just beginning to bloom, and the local cherry trees are breathtaking. Hawthorns are the tree most associated with Beltane. Although my local trees have yet to reveal their full beauty, this anticipation is one of the season's greatest joys, filling us with excitement for the Summer to come.

It can be easy to feel swept up within the energy of the season; as the days grow longer, we can fill our days again with 'to-do' lists, but the greatest gift we can give ourselves in springtime is to be still is to notice and appreciate, communing gently with the spirits of the season, keeping our hearts and minds open to the changing world around us.

To celebrate the season, forget crossing another thing off the 'to-do' list…instead open the window or creep outside and listen to the birds; they will sing you back to yourself more effectively than any list of tasks.

May the spirits of the wild greet you at dawn. Beltane, blessings to you all.



From The Editor, Dee Crute:

Haile Reed, @hedgerowdiary, not only brings magic to you today on Beltane but also shares with you her "seasonal diary from home, hearth and hedge" through her blog Hedgerow Diary, where you can immerse yourself in botanical folklore and seasonal bounty of nature!



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