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Celtic Beltane Festival: Celebrating the Rebirth of Nature

Beltane is a Celtic celebration that honors the rebirth of spring and the fertility of the natural world.


In den Weiden werden unsere Träume klingen

Und die Winde werden unsre Lieder singen.

Lasst uns mit den Funken übers Feuer springen,

In der Walpurgisnacht!°


In the meadows our dreams will resound

And the winds will sing our songs.

Let us leap over the fire spitting sparks

In the Night of Walpurga!


Faun – Walpurgisnacht- il video https://youtu.be/nLgM1QJ3S_I


Beltane is one of the four significant holidays in the Druidic calendar, along with Samhain, Imbolc, and Lughnasadh. It is also known as Beltaine, Cet Samhain, or Calan Mai. Beltane marks the time when sacred fires are lit to purify people, animals, and fields. In the Coligny calendar, it is called Giamonios, meaning "time of the end of Winter," and is one of two festivals that mark the two milestones of the Celtic year. The festival is held on May 1 and celebrates light and life, contrasting with Samhain, also known as Trinoux Samonia, which marks the beginning of winter on the night of October 31 to November 1, now commonly known as Halloween.


On April 30, Walpurga Night or Walpurgisnacht, a pagan festival celebrating the arrival of spring, takes place. The festival has Germanic origins and is still celebrated in some regions of Germany and Scandinavia, characterized by nightly celebrations with traditional hearths, dancing, and singing. It is believed that on this night, wizards and witches gather on Brocken Mountain in the Harz region to celebrate together.


The word Beltane means "fire of Bel," recognizing the God Belenos, the Celtic god of light, and the Goddess Belisama, the very bright, continental Celtic aspect of the Irish Goddess Brigit. Fire has different meanings from an anthropological perspective, symbolizing purification and renewal and being used in the peasant tradition to illuminate dark nights and scare away wild animals that threaten herds and flocks. These meanings can be summarized in the concepts of transformation, vitality, and illumination.


Neopagans celebrate Beltane with rituals, dances, songs, and offerings to the deity, inspired by ancient pre-Christian traditions. For them, Beltane is a festival of joy, love, and creativity, expressing gratitude for the blessings received from nature and invoking abundance for the future. It is a festival related to fertility and the rebirth of nature after the long winter. In the past, Celtic peoples lit large bonfires and held propitiatory rites to encourage crops and livestock. The Maypole ceremony in Beltane is an ancient tradition of erecting a pole decorated with flowers and twelve ribbons. Villagers danced around the pole and sometimes jumped over the flames or embers of the fire beside the pole. The Druids would light the Beltane fire using seven different kinds of wood, most notably oak, a tree sacred to them. This was believed to bring good luck and protection for the coming year.


The feast of Beltane is also associated with electing the May queen and king, representing the union of the Earth with the Sun, the Goddess with the God, bearing fruit, and generating life. During the feast of Beltane, the Celts contracted temporary marriages, which usually lasted until the following year, to be reconfirmed annually.


Today, some Neopagan groups rediscover the feast of Beltane and celebrate it as a time of communion with the forces of nature and expression of their spirituality. In Italy, there are also several associations and communities that organize events and ceremonies for May 1, drawing inspiration from ancient Celtic traditions or other pagan cultures. This phenomenon testifies to the growing interest in naturalistic religions and magical practices in a context of a crisis of traditional values and a search for new existential meanings.


The article is authored by Dr. Marco Matteoli, a medical surgeon specializing in diagnostic imaging, publicist journalist, and a 2020 graduate of International Cooperation and Development from the University of Rome "Sapienza." Since 2009, he has been a volunteer doctor of the civilian component and the military corps of the Italian Red Cross.




Sitografia


Bibliografia

  1. Taraglio, R. (2014) Il Vischio e la quercia: La Spiritualità celtica nell'europa druidica. Torino: L'età dell'acquario.

  2. Heinberg (2001)I riti del solstizio: feste, rituali e cerimonie per i cicli stagionali della terra. Edizioni Mediterranee



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