Celtic Celebrations: Tidings of the Seasons

Celebrate the Celtic four main seasonal festivals: Imbolc, Bealtane, Lughnasadh and Samhain.

Imbolc takes place on the first day of February and it marks the spring season.

Imbolc means ‘purification’, and it’s associated with Brigit, a pagan Irish goddess who later converted to Christianism and is regarded as a saint. During this celebration, the pagan and the Christian intertwines to give the festival a unique, sometimes unexpected, character.

On the Dingle Peninsula, Imbolc is celebrated by St. Gobnait’s Well in Dún Chaoin, which some say may be linked somehow to St. Brigit, with the traditional circle around the well and the burning of sage as a symbol of purification.

 

Bealtane is the great Celtic May festival and is celebrated on the first day of May.

Beltane is a fire festival to marks the beginning of summer.

People will gather in Dingle town, where they are lead to a secret place.

Singers and dancers and celebrants dressed in ancient druid clothes and masks begin the celebrations, with speeches in ancient tongues, chants, music, and dances. Once the bonfires – or Beltane fires – are burning, everybody joins in.

 

Lughnasadh is a harvest festival, celebrated on the first of August, and on the fortnight before and following it.

In ancient times, Lughnasadh was the time when political and legal matters were settled, followed by field games and festivities.

Celebrations on the Dingle Peninsula are led by a druid priestess, with chants and thanks at the relentless sound of the bodhrán, at a designated place on the clifftop, at the edge of the continent.

 

 

Samhain is celebrated on the night between the 31st of October and the 1st of November, and it coincides with the Christian festival of the dead.

Samhain marks the end of the warm weather and the start of winter.

During this time, it is believed that the traditional boundaries of space and time are broken, and the spirits mingle with humans.

A masked congregation gathers and invokes the supernatural energy that flows freely from the Otherworld.

Manuela dei Grandi

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