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, Floriala (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 set thought on how Beltane acquired its name. It is, however, 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.
By Celtic reckoning, the actual Beltane celebration begins on sundown of the preceding day, April 30, because the Celts always figured their days from sundown to sundown. And sundown was the proper time for Druids to kindle the great Belfires on the tops of the nearest beacon hill (such as Tara Hill, Co. Meath, in Ireland). These “need-fires” had healing properties.
Frequently, cattle would be driven between two such bonfires (oak wood was the favorite fuel for them) and, on the morrow, they would be taken to their summer pastures.
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