Beltane for Kids
A Guide to Celebrating the Pagan Festival as a Family
As pagan parents, you might be interested in celebrating Beltane, a festival with deep roots in ancient Gaelic and English folklore. Beltane falls on May 1st and marks the midpoint between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. In this post, we will explore the history and symbolism of Beltane and provide some practical suggestions for celebrating the occasion with your little ones!
The Origins and Meaning of Beltane
Beltane is a cross-quarter day on the Pagan wheel of the year. Today's celebrations have origins in ancient Ireland and Scotland, where it was celebrated as the beginning of summer. The festival is named after the Celtic god Bel, a sun god, and the Gaelic word "teine," meaning fire. Together, the word Beltane means "bright fire" or "shining fire."
Historically, Beltane was a time for agricultural practices to shift and for the cows to be moved to their summer pastures. It was also a time to protect the crops, towns, and families, with many rituals designed to ensure good luck and protection. For instance, people would light two large fires, walk their cattle between them, and chant incantations or spells for protection.
Symbolism and Correspondences of Beltane
Fire is central to many Beltane traditions, and people would extinguish all their home fires before Beltane, only to relight them with the sacred Beltane fire. The color red is associated with Beltane, representing the energy and passion of the season, while green symbolizes growth and renewal.
Flowers are also an essential symbol of Beltane, and people traditionally wore them in their hair. Many communities decorated may bushes with flowers and ribbons. The maypole, a familiar sight at Beltane celebrations, is where people dance and weave ribbons around the pole.
Practical Ways to Celebrate as a Family
For families and pagan parents looking to celebrate Beltane with their children, there are many ways to incorporate child-friendly activities into your celebrations:
Planting seeds: Involve your children in planting seeds or bulbs in your garden or in pots, symbolizing the growth and renewal of the season. You can talk to them about how the earth is waking up from its slumber and coming back to life.
Making flower crowns: Gather flowers, such as daisies, bluebells, and dandelions, and make flower crowns to wear as a family. This is a fun and creative activity that children will love, and it's a great way to connect with the symbolism of Beltane. We have an abundance of pink evening primrose in our neighborhood so those are our go-to!
Crafting maypoles: Involve your children in decorating the maypole with flowers and greenery, and then dance and weave the ribbons around the pole together. You can even make your own mini maypoles using sticks or dowels and ribbons. Place the dowel into a cup filled with dirt or sand to keep it steady and use craft ribbon or string to decorate it. Place special crystals around it to amplify your intention!
Creating a family altar: create an altar together as a family, incorporating symbols of the season such as flowers, greenery, and candles. Encourage your children to add their own touches to the altar, such as drawings or crafts.
Storytelling: Gather together as a family and tell stories about Beltane and its traditions. You can talk to your children about the history and meaning of the festival, and share stories about the gods and goddesses associated with Beltane. Some books we love for this are Once Around the Sun: Stories, Crafts, and Recipes to Celebrate the Sacred Earth Year by Ellen Evert Hopman and Circle Round by Starhawk, Diane Baker, and Anne Hill.
Making honey cakes: involve your children in making honey cakes, a traditional Beltane treat. This is a great way to teach them about the importance of food and cooking in our celebrations, and it's a fun and tasty activity that they'll enjoy.
Beltane is a time to celebrate the arrival of summer and to connect with the earth and its rhythms. As pagan parents, you can use Beltane as an opportunity to honor ancient traditions and connect with others who share a love of nature and magic. Whether you celebrate alone or with others, there are many ways to mark the occasion and welcome the warmth and energy of the season.
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