Heritage and Culture
The Beltane Fire Festival
It's a running joke in Scotland that summer is our favourite day of the year, but that doesn't stop us from trying to encourage it!
Originally one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals known as the Quarter Days, Beltane (translated as "bright fire") was traditionally the beginning of the summer farming season. Occurring on the first of May each year, It involved rituals to protect the cattle, crops and people of the farm. The lighting of fires was a symbolic action, to chase away the cold dark winter months and encourage the sun's presence throughout the spring.
Edinburgh's famous Beltane Fire Festival is a mix of the old traditions of Beltane and a modern-day mix of cultures and art forms. A theatrical celebration of the coming season, the festival is formed of a procession around Calton Hill in the city centre. The May Queen, the goddess of growth and renewal, assembles representatives of various elemental forces. They gather for order to bring them all together for the culmination of the festival: the death of the Green Man, who symbolises all life that grows on earth. He is duly stripped of his winter persona and reborn, in the spirit of the changing of the seasons. The May Queen accepts him as her consort and they light the Beltane bonfire together.
The Beltane Fire Festival is a spectacular way to mark the changing seasons. If you're attending the festival, have a great time - and hopefully the fires burning on Calton Hill will bring some good weather in the coming months!