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Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh

“On Beltane night we raise a toast …to Earth, our Mother and Fire, our Host”

Did you know Edinburgh is host to the largest fire festival of its kind? 

The largest Beltane celebrations in the world are held in Edinburgh on 30th April every year since 1988.  Up to 15,000 people come together for a huge celebration on Calton Hill in the city centre to celebrate the beginning of summer, and all the warmth, fun and fruits She will bear. The dark and difficult winter is over, It is time for abundance and ease.

 Beltane Fire Festival is a living, breathing re-interpretation and modernisation of an ancient Iron Age Celtic ritual The May Queen and her Consort, the Green Man in all his winter foliage lead an anti-clockwise procession around the hill, driven on by drummers representing the unstoppable pulse of nature. Interacting with elemental groups en route to an area where the Green Man will dance and be stripped of his winter foliage to be re-born a young and fresh entity, ready for the fertile season. Together this couple light the fires of summer and hold court at the Bower where the procession will end with the yearly handfastings, offerings and making merry. For more information about the largest Beltane Fire Festival in the WORLD: see here

The festival is organised by the Beltane Fire Society, which was created in the late 1980s as a community arts project, celebrating the seasonal quarter-day festivals through ritual theatre.

Fires are lit at nightfall, and festivities carry on all night. 

beltane fire festival on carlton hill

The Green Man Silver Pendant

The Green Man is found in many forms throughout history. He is found in many guises, but the most common feature is his face covered in foliage. He is believed to symbolise the cycle of life, death and rebirth. A pagan symbol that heralds Spring after a long winter with the renewal of rich vegetation. 

The Triple Spiral – Triskele

The triple spiral or Triskele represents the mother, maiden and crone. Beltane symbolises the May Queen converting from maiden into Mother for the fertility season.

May Day Morning Dew

It is a ritual for people to visit Arthur’s Seat at sunrise, mostly young women and wash their face in the mountain dew. It is said by doing this you will have a beautiful completion for the rest of the year.

May dew is deemed the holy water of the druids and washing your face with it assures vitality, beauty and good fortune for the year.

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