- an ancient Celtic festival observed on May Day in Scotland and Ireland to mark the beginning of summer.
Origin of Beltane
Examples from the Web for beltane
The Highlanders have a proverb, “he is between two beltane fires.”
The Beltane customs seem to have been the same as elsewhere.
The fuel was piled on a hill-top, and at the fire the beltane cake was cooked.
The following account of Beltane is extracted from a chapter dealing with Highland superstitions.
There is some difference of opinion as to the particular day on which the Beltane festival was held in this country.Folk Lore
- an ancient Celtic festival with a sacrificial bonfire on May Day. It is also celebrated by modern pagans
Word Origin and History for beltane
early 15c., from Lowland Scottish, from Gaelic bealltainn "May 1," important Celtic religious rite marking the start of summer, probably literally "blazing fire," from PIE root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn" (see bleach (v.)) + Old Irish ten "fire," from PIE *tepnos, related to Latin tepidus "warm." But this derivation of the second element is hotly disputed by some on philological grounds, and fires were equally important in the other Celtic holidays.
The rubbish about Baal, Bel, Belus imported into the word from the Old Testament and classical antiquity, is outside the scope of scientific etymology. [OED]
Also known as "Old May Day," because after the 1752 calendar reform it continued to be reckoned according to Old Style; it was one of the quarter-days of ancient Scotland.