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Beltane Fire Festival, Edinburgh

Beltane Fire Festival, Edinburgh

The ancient festival of Beltane marked the beginning of summer, and was held on the night before May 1. Because the changing of the seasons was a big deal to the pastoral Celtic peoples, the start of summer meant a time of light and growth to come. The celebration included baking Beltane bannocks, displaying fresh greenery and handfasting (which could be viewed as a temporary or permanent marriage, as the individuals preferred).

One of the most important parts of the Beltane celebration was the lighting of the Beltane fires. The bonfires represented the growing power of the sun from spring to midsummer. Cattle and farm animals were driven around the fires, and brave humans would leap across the bonfires.