Beltane 2015: Facts, History And Traditions Of The May Day Festival

04/30/2015 10:02 pm ET | Updated May 01, 2015

May 1 marks the Celtic festival of Beltane, also referred to as May Day. As spring is underway and summer approaches, many neopagans and Wiccans around the world celebrate Beltane. Here are some facts and traditions to know:

1. Beltane is one of four major Wiccan sabbats, along with Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasadh.

2. Beltane may refer to the "fires of Bel," in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus.

3. Beltane is a celebration of the early summer and in agricultural times affirmed the fertility of the fields and the promise of a bountiful harvest.

4. Celebrants mark the holiday by lighting fires, dancing, feasting and performing fertility rites.

5. Beltane celebrations commonly involve dancing around a maypole, which is a spring fertility ritual found in many folk traditions.

6. Beltane and Samhain, which fall exactly six months apart, are considered to be turning points in the year, much like New Year's Day. On these days, some pagans believe the veil between the human and supernatural worlds is at its thinnest, making them potent days for magic crafting.

Visit the website of the Circle Sanctuary, a Wiccan church based in Wisconsin, for tips on how to celebrate Beltane.

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