Bealtaine

Uisneach Bealtaine Ireland 2011

Uisneach Bealtaine Ireland 2011

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Beltane or Beltaine (play /?b?lte?n/) is the anglicised spelling of Old Irish Bel(l)taine or Beltine (modern Irish Bealtaine [?b?al??t???n??], Scottish Gaelic Bealltainn [?b?al??t???n?]), the Gaelic name for either the month of May or the festival that takes place on first day of May.

Bealtaine was historically a Gaelic festival celebrated in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Bealtaine and Samhain were the leading terminal dates of the civil year in medieval Ireland, though the latter festival was the more important. The festival regained popularity during the Celtic Revival and remains observed in the Celtic Nations and the Irish diaspora.

In Irish Gaelic, the month of May is known as M? Bhealtaine or Bealtaine, and the festival as L? Bealtaine (‘day of Bealtaine’ or, ‘May Day’). In Scottish Gaelic, the month is known as either (An) C?itean or a’ Mh?igh, and the festival is known as Latha Bealltainn or simply Bealltainn. The feast was also known as C?ad Shamhain or C?tshamhainin from which the word C?itean derives. Beltane was formerly spelled ‘Bealtuinn’ in Scottish Gaelic; in Manx it is spelt ‘Boaltinn’ or ‘Boaldyn’. In Modern Irish, Oidhche Bealtaine or O?che Bealtaine is May Eve, and L? Bealtaine is May Day. M? na Bealtaine, or simply Bealtaine is the name of the month of May.

In Neopaganism, Bealtaine is considered a cross-quarter day, marking the midpoint in the Sun’s progress between the spring equinox and summer solstice. The astronomical date for this midpoint is closer to 5 May or 7 May, but this can vary from year to year.

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