RELIGION
04/29/2016 05:35 pm ET

This Is How Pagans Celebrate May Day

Beltane is a summer festival celebrated around the world.

May 1 marks the Celtic festival of Beltane, also referred to as May Day, which many neopagans and Wiccans around the world observe to celebrate the onset of summer. Here are some facts and traditions to know about the holiday.

Members of the public wait to watch performers celebrate the coming of summer by during the Beltane Fire Festival on Calton H
Roberto Ricciuti via Getty Images
Members of the public wait to watch performers celebrate the coming of summer by during the Beltane Fire Festival on Calton Hill April 30, 2015 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

1. Beltane is one of eight pagan holidays, along with the summer solstice, Lughnasadh, the fall equinox, Samhain, the winter solstice, Imbolc and the spring equinox.

Beltane Fire Society performers celebrate the coming of summer by participating in the Beltane Fire Festival on Calton Hill A
Roberto Ricciuti via Getty Images
Beltane Fire Society performers celebrate the coming of summer by participating in the Beltane Fire Festival on Calton Hill April 30, 2015 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

2. 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.

3. Beltane may refer to the “fires of Bel,” in honor of the Celtic sun god, Belenus. Some pagans believe fire has the power to cleanse, purify and increase fertility.

Fire is a common accompaniment to Beltane celebrations.
Roberto Ricciuti via Getty Images
Fire is a common accompaniment to Beltane celebrations.

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

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

People dance around the maypole used in a Beltane May Day celebration below Glastonbury Tor on May 1, 2013 in Glastonbury, En
Matt Cardy via Getty Images
People dance around the maypole used in a Beltane May Day celebration below Glastonbury Tor on May 1, 2013 in Glastonbury, England.

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

Take a look at the video below about Beltane, produced by the Circle Sanctuary -- a Wiccan church based in Wisconsin, and visit their website for tips on how to celebrate the holiday.

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