The beginning of summer was an important time in the ancient calendar of the Gaelic people.
It marked a time of natural growth, abundance and optimism for the coming harvest.
Today, many people still opt to celebrate this festival that is deeply connected in ancient Celtic culture.
Hope and community spirit abound as part of this festival.
Beltane Blessings are an integral part of sharing the goodwill at this time of year.
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Table of Contents
- 1 What is Beltane?
- 2 When is Beltane?
- 3 What are Beltane Blessings?
- 4 The Beltane Blessing – Am Beannachadh Bealltain
- 5 Beltane Blessings for Fertility and Abundance
- 6 Beltane Blessings for Protection
- 7 Beltane Blessings for Love
- 8 Beltane Blessings for Prosperity
- 9 How to celebrate Beltane?
- 10 FAQ
- 11 Irish Blessings
What is Beltane?
Beltane is an ancient Gaelic festival that marks the beginning of summer.
It is a celebration of growth, fertility, new beginnings and protection.
The health and wellbeing of people, animals and crops is of central importance to this festival.
Many of the rituals of Beltane involving fire, water and tree and flower decorations developed to protect these valuable assets from harm.
This harm or interference was often thought to come from the fairy folk, or aos sí, who needed to be appeased at this time of year.
Beltane has several different spellings. So if you are wondering if Beltaine Blessings and Beltane Blessings are the same thing, they are.
In English, it can be written as:
- Bealtaine (especially in Ireland)
The origin of the word is not clear, but possibly comes from the Irish word for fire, which is tine.
In Irish the festival is known as Lá Bealtaine. Latha Bealltainn is the name of the festival in Scottish Gaelic.
Related article: Beltane
This article explores the origin and history of this ancient festival, as well as the traditions and rituals that evolved as part of the celebration.
(For more blessing inspriation, read our Irish Blessings for Every Ocassion.)
When is Beltane?
Beltane is celebrated on May 1. Often the festival celebration starts at sundown on April 30 and lasts until the sun sets on May 1.
Originally the date of Beltane would have varied year to year as the date was the mid way mark between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice.
It is a cross quarter festival, like the other festivals that marked the transitions between the seasons in the old Gaelic year.
They usually start on the eve before the main celebration and finish at sun down on the day of the festival.
These festivals are as follows:
In some places, Beltane traditionally occurred when the cattle were moved to their summer pastures.
Alternatively, the first full bloom of the Hawthorn tree which occurs at this time was also used as a way of marking the start of Beltane.
What are Beltane Blessings?
Beltane Blessings are short phrases or poems that consolidate feelings of goodwill, protection, prosperity and positive energy.
Nature undergoes considerable change around the time of Beltane.
By remembering this, we can help adapt to changes and opportunities in our own daily lives.
Someone who is undergoing change in their lives and starting out on a new path or new beginning may find Beltane Blessings or Beltane quotes particularly useful.
They are ideal for loved ones, friends or colleagues.
It is also the perfect way to explain what is Beltane Day to someone who does not yet know about it!
The Beltane Blessing – Am Beannachadh Bealltain
The Beltane Blessing, or Am Beannachadh Bealltain, is a Gaelic song that was written by the Scottish folklorist Alexander Carmichael.
It is one of the many songs, hymns and poems that Carmichael compiled through his research as a folklorist in Gaelic speaking Scotland in the 19th century.
He published his findings in the Carmina Gadelica.
The lyrics of this blessing are in Scottish Gaelic.
Some of the most famous lines from the Beltane prayer are:
Beannaich, a Thrianailt fhioir nach gann,
Mi fein, mo cheile agus mo chlann,
Mo chlann mhaoth’s am mathair chaomh ‘n an ceann,
Air chlar chubhr nan raon, air airidh chaon nam beann,
Air chlar chubhr nan raon, air airidh chaon nam beann.
Which translates to:
Bless, O Threefold true and bountiful,
Myself, my spouse and my children,
My tender children and their beloved mother at their head,
On the fragrant plain, at the gay mountain sheiling,
On the fragrant plain, at the gay mountain sheiling.
Beltane Blessings for Fertility and Abundance
Many of the Beltane Blessings and Beltane Prayers are associated with growth and fertility.
Nature at this time of year flourishes.
The traditional festival is one that gives thanks for the abundance that nature provides and its ability to create new life.
Here are some fertility blessings that may inspire you:
May peace and plenty bless your world
With joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
Bring the best to you and yours!
May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow
And may trouble avoid you wherever you go.
For each petal on the shamrock
This brings a wish your way
Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you
And warm your heart,
Till it glows like a great peat fire.
Always remember to forget
The troubles that pass away
But never forget to remember
The blessings that come each day.
Beltane Blessings for Protection
To protect from the fairies, the evil eye or other unwanted magic, different rituals evolved.
Flowers were placed outside of houses, farm buildings and wells to protect them for the coming year.
People and occasionally animals wore Beltane flower crowns or garlands to also act as protection.
The following Beltane blessings can help strengthen and empower. Perhaps sharing them with someone you know will help them to feel better.
May strong arms hold you
Caring hearts tend you
And may love await you at every step.
May your joys be as bright as the morning,
And your sorrows merely be shadows
That fade in the sunlight of love.
Bless you and yours
As well as the cottage you live in.
May the roof overhead be well thatched
And those inside be well matched.
Bless the four corners of this house
And be the lintel blest,
And bless the hearth and bless the board
And bless each place to rest,
And bless each door that opens wide
To stranger as to kin,
And bless each crystal window pane
That lets the starlight in.
Beltane Blessings for Love
Beltane is undoubtedly a time of love.
These blessings of love may be particularly suited for any Beltane weddings that may take place.
(Tip: if you are looking for more wedding blessings, you can find more inspiration in our Irish Blessings for Weddings Guide.)
Lucky stars above you,
Sunshine on your way,
Many friends to love you,
Joy in work and play.
Laughter to outweigh each care
In your heart a song,
And gladness waiting everywhere
All your whole life long.
May you always have walls for the winds,
A roof for the rain, tea beside the fire,
Laughter to cheer you, those you love near you,
And all your heart might desire.
May you know nothing but happiness
From this day forward.
Beltane Blessings for Prosperity
Beltane is a time to look forward to the future.
It was a time when people focused on the coming harvest in an optimistic way.
Beltane Blessings for prosperity help to be grateful for the many blessings we have and still have optimism for how the future will be.
May your troubles be less
And your blessings be more.
And nothing but happiness
Come through your door.
For each petal on the shamrock
This brings a wish your way
Good health, good luck, and happiness
For today and every day.
May you live as long as you want,
But never want as long as you live.
May your pockets be heavy
And your heart be light,
May good luck pursue you
Each morning and night.
How to celebrate Beltane?
There are many simple ways that you can take part in the celebration of Beltane.
The following ideas might help give you some inspiration for your own Beltane traditions and Beltane rituals.
You can do this alone, or by coming together with friends and family to mark this special occasion.
Related Article: How to Celebrate Beltane
Beltane Greetings – Special Beltane Blessings
The first way you can start to celebrate Beltane is to wish someone a Beltane Blessing!
This is an easy action to share goodwill and a sense of connection with nature and the seasons.
Beltane greetings also help to promote this festival and increase people’s awareness of it.
One old tradition associated with Beltane is collecting flowers on Beltane eve.
Yellow, white and blue flowers are particularly common at this time of year.
These flowers would often be left as a gift outside the door of a neighbor. What a lovely way to start the day on May 1.
Light a Bonfire or Candle
Many of the Beltane photos you might see include fires or candles.
Depending on your location, it may be possible to light a small bonfire or attend a Beltane fire to mark the occasion.
Rituals with fire were common practice as part of the Beltane celebrations.
They are seen as having a protective, as well as symbolic meaning.
The Beltane Fire Festival takes place in Edinburgh each year and is one of the biggest celebrations of the festival.
If it is not possible to light a bonfire, then feel free to light a candle or two for you own special intentions.
Decorate a Tree
Traditionally, trees would have been decorated with colorful yarn, materials, flowers and even sliotars (balls used in the traditional Irish sport of hurling).
Hawthorn, rowan and hazel would often be chosen as the May Tree, but if you don’t have access to one of these, any tree will do.
Decorated branches were brought from home to home by children to welcome the summer in times gone by.
Other flower and tree decorations were placed over windows and door frames to welcome the summer.
Create an Altar
It is possible to create your own altar with some simple Beltane symbols.
There is no need to shop around at great expense, the simple altars that reflect the natural world around us can sometimes be the most appealing.
Candles representing fire can be a central element to the altar.
Water collected first thing on May 1 was thought to have special properties. A little bowl filled with water represents this ancient tradition.
The early morning dew on May 1 also is said to have exceptional purity.
It is thought to give one a youthful appearance.
Perhaps you can add some to your altar as well!
Flowers and branches of blossoming trees symbolize new life and could also be suitable additions to this altar.
Select a May Queen (Or May King)
A May Queen was traditionally selected on May 1.
This queen was a young girl decorated in flowers for the special occasion. She would lead the procession in front of the May Bough.
Perhaps you know of a child who would enjoy such an honor for the occasion.
For more ways to celebrate a blessed Beltane festival read our How to Celebrate Beltane article.
More information about the Beltane rituals and traditions can be found in our Rituals for Beltane Guide.
What does Happy Beltane mean?
Happy Beltane is a well meaning wish intended to impart positivity and good will.
It is connected with the season and change. Reminding people that we can adapt to changing times, as well as challenging times.
Perhaps it is even possible to look forward with optimism at such future unknowns.
What God is associated with Beltane?
The Celtic God Belenus may be associated with Beltane. It is possible that his name, meaning “bright one” also helped form the original word behind Beltane.
The Irish Goddess Áine is associated with summer and the bright sun.
Although it is difficult to find a direct connection to the festival of Beltane, her main attributes are closely connected with this time of year.
Some religions focus on Beltane Goddess Rituals as part of their celebrations.
Is Beltane religious?
Beltane originated as a pagan festival that has changed and adapted through the ages.
In Ireland, signs of the cross would have been painted on cattle using milk to help protect them, thus linking Christian beliefs to this older festival.
Other religions also celebrate Beltane, for example Neopagans and Wicca.
For Neopageans, this is an important festival. Some Neopagans try to celebrate in a very authentic way that is true to the old tradition.
Whereas others take different influences and ideas to celebrate a more modern celebration.
Beltane also features in Wicca. This Sabbat focuses on fertility and includes much celebration in the form of dance.
May poles also are a part of the Wiccan Beltane rituals.
What are the other Gaelic Festivals?
Imbolc (February 1) marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
The Goddess Brigid, as well as the Catholic Saint Brigid, are strongly connected with this day. It is a celebration of light, fire and rebirth after the long winter.
The Lughnasadh festival at the start of August is the start of the harvest season.
It is a period of celebration for the fruitful harvest time.
The name of the festival comes from the Celtic God Lugh.
According to legends, this Celtic God was very talented in many different areas including sport, smithing and the arts.
He established his own competitor games featuring horse racing and martial arts. They were known as the Assembly of Talti or Tailteann Games.
At the end of the harvest season, Samhain heralds the starting point of the winter. Dark days and cold weather await during the winter months.
It is traditionally thought to be a point in the year where the boundary between the real world and the Otherworld was not very strong.
Passage tombs from the Neolithic times in several areas aligned to the sunrise at this time of year.
These were possibly seen as gateways to the Otherworld.
Search our site for other interesting Beltane articles. We also have several other Blessings posts that you might also want to check out: