Brief History of Beltane
Beltane has been translated in many ways. One translation is “Bel-fire” or “Bel’s fire.” Bel, Beli, Belenos, Balar, or Belinus is the ancient Celtic god of light and fire. This god’s actual name may not have been Bel, as Bel could well have been a title, a term of respect, as some scholars trace the name back to the Middle Eastern Baal and translate it as meaning “Lord.” As the Bright or Shining One, Bel can also be connected to Lugh. The name might also derive from bel-dine, “dine” meaning cattle.
The word Beltane corresponds to the modern Irish Gaelic word Bealtaine, the name of the month of May, and to the Scottish Gaelic word Bealtuinn meaning May Day.
Other names For the Day and the celebrations are:
May 1: Rudemas/Roodmas, Rood Day (the Christian term for Rood Day), St. Walburga’s Day; Beltane, May Day, Cetsamhain (opposite Samhain), Cershamain, Fairy Day, Sacred Thorn Day, Old Beltane, Beltaine, Beltain, Walpurgis Night, Floralia(Roman feast of flowers from April 29 to May 1), Walpurgisnacht (Germanic-feast of St. Walpurga), Thrimilce (Anglo-Saxon), Bloumaand (Old Dutch) This holiday like many of the sabbats start on the eve and is celebrated thru the following Day.
There is no consensus on how the name was derived at but it is agreed that this Sabbat honors fertility and creation.
This was also a time when many cultures light Bale fires. In some places that is still an honored tradition.