Calan Haf (Welsh), Bealtainne (Gaelic), Belotenes (Gaulish), Walpurgisnacht (Norse), Vrtraturya (Vedic), Beltane (neo-Pagan).
The end of spring with the promise of summer on the way as the rains that fell throughout spring begin to bear fruit. The land greens, crops recently planted begin to grow and the first of the spring calves are born. The idea of new life, new growth flows through the minds of all: young and old; human and animal; plant and sea.
As at Samhain, the veil between this world and the Otherworld is perceived as ‘thinned’. During the eve, bonfires are lit while animals and people are guided between the two bonfires (in Gàidhlig – ‘Eadar dà theine Bhealltainn’) for both protection and purification. Some spry young men may actually leap the fire itself, with the intension that the crops will grow as high as they leap.
In the morning, the feeling is one of life, love, movement and fertility. Young men gather garlands of flowers and branches of evergreens to attract the love of a maiden. Morris dancers greet the sunrise with the flash of swords and the ringing of bells. A maypole dance is a common event in many cultures. All of these activities with a desire to bring fertility to the lands, animals, and peoples.
Neo-Pagans celebrates this as the courtship of the God and Goddess. As the young God emerges into manhood, he falls in love with the Goddess, and she with him. They meet together in fields and forests and spurred on by the energies at work in nature, they unite and the Goddess again becomes pregnant.