Definition of Beltane
: the Celtic May Day festival
Did You Know?
To the ancient Celts, May Day was a critical time when the boundaries between the human and supernatural worlds were removed and people needed to take special measures to protect themselves against enchantments. The Beltane fire festival originated in a spring ritual in which cattle were herded between two huge bonfires to protect them from evil and disease. Perhaps the earliest mention of Beltane (formerly spelled beltene, belltaine, and beltine) appears in an Old Irish dictionary commonly attributed to Cormac, a king and bishop who lived in Cashel, Ireland, toward the end of the first millennium. The Beltane spelling entered English in the 15th century by way of Scottish Gaelic.
Origin and Etymology of beltane
Middle English (Scots), May 1 or 2, from Scottish Gaelic bealltain
First Known Use: 15th century
Learn More about beltane
Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about Beltane
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up Beltane? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).