Tam's Tall Tales
- Beltane Lights Up Edinburgh Skies
Beltane Fire Festival
Celebrating The Coming of Summer
Pagan fire festival go back to pre-Christian times and was supposed to encourage the crops to grow. There has been a holiday at the start of May in many parts of Scotland for centuries. Young girls would also rise early to wash their faces in the May dew. The custom of lighting fires at this time has come through in place names such as Tarbolton in Ayrshire ("tor" meaning hill and "bolton" from "Beltane").
In many Celtic lands, the first day of May was the start of a new pastoral season. Cattle were driven from their winter steading to new pastures, and specific ceremonies were performed to protect them from sickness and harm. Other May Day rituals welcomed the rekindling of fertility in the earth, as well as in animals and among people.
The ancient Druidic Fire Festival has been revived by "New Age" followers who gather on the historic Calton Hill in Edinburgh. The modern Beltane Fire Festival has run since 1988. This year's celebration included drummers, fire dancers, physical theatre, and a bonfire.
Thousands of people gathered on Calton Hill in Edinburgh recently for this year's Beltane Fire Festival. Organisers said hundreds of revellers took part in the celebration of the coming of summer.
Event co-ordinator Sara Thomas said their Beltane celebration was an ancient tradition with a modern twist.
(All the graphics in this page are of the Beltane Festival celebrations in Edinburgh, by kind permission of Christophe Mercier).
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