The Celtic Festival of Beltaine which marks the beginning of summer in the ancient Celtic calendar is a Cross Quarter Day, half way between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. While the Beltaine Festival is now associated with May 1st, the actual astronomical date is a number of days later. The festival was marked with the lighting of bonfires and the movement of animals to summer pastures.
In Irish mythology, the beginning of the summer season started with the Fire Festival at Beltaine. Great bonfires would mark a time of purification and transition, heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year, and were accompanied with rituals to protect the people from any harm by otherworldly spirits.
In my novel, The Keepers of Éire, the Tuatha dragon clan members renew their sworn oath to protect the land and its inhabitants, and rejuvenate the dragons’ magic by reciting the clan motto: Ni neart go cur le cheile (There is no strength without unity) and flying over the ley lines at the Beltaine Fire Festival on the Hill of Tara. Also, my two protagonists, Christian and Devan, officially pair up with their dragons (Roarke and Dochas, respectively) in a Chosen Ceremony, and end with both humans in great peril. To find out how the story ends, check out The Keepers of Éire.
May you enjoy Beltaine with this image from http://www.irelandcalling.ie
Want to celebrate “being Irish”, even if you’re only Irish for one day? Would you like to get a taste of Éire, but can’t afford the travel expenses?
My debut fantasy novels, The Keepers of Éire and The Keepers of Éire-YA Edition are set in modern-day Ireland and feature an American woman and an Irishman searching for their destinies and a way to stop a dragon killer. Readers will be transported to the lush, rolling hills, spectacular stone circles, and bustling cities of Ireland. In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, I am offering both Kindle e-books at reduced pricing for one week starting Thursday (3/16). Visit here to get your copy.
Enjoy the read. Let your imagination take flight! Sláinte!
I have just released a YA (Young Adult) Edition of my first novel, The Keepers of Éire. Same great story, just without the more adult scenes. Print version is now available on Amazon here. The ebook edition will be available shortly.
For most of the world December 31 is New Year’s Eve, but in Scotland it’s something much more important: Hogmanay. So what is it? Hogmanay is a very big deal in Scotland. It’s the biggest day in the festive calendar, a celebration that makes Christmas Day seem very small indeed. It’s what the Scots call their New Year’s Eve celebrations—but these celebrations date back centuries, indeed, Hogmanay’s origins are viking. Norse invaders celebrated the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, with wild parties in late December. Those parties began to incorporate elements from the Gaelic Samhain winter festival, which celebrates the beginning of winter, and Yule, whose celebrations were known as ‘daft days’ in Scotland. Like many annual celebrations, the end result is a mix of its various influences.
Why is it such a big deal? Because until very recently, Scots didn’t do Christmas. The party-loving Protestant Reformation effectively banned Christmas for 400 years, and Christmas Day didn’t even become a public holiday in Scotland until 1958 and Boxing Day didn’t become a holiday until 1974. So while the rest of the world celebrated Christmas, the Scots toiled. Their family get-togethers happened at Hogmanay instead.
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay is the biggie: it starts with a massive torchlit parade on December 30, includes a huge fireworks display, has musical performances, and pulls a crowd from more than 60 different countries. Other Scottish cities have big parties too, but Edinburgh’s one is the biggest.
How can one celebrate Hogmanay properly? There’s no right or wrong way to celebrate Hogmanay, but if you want to do what many Scots do you’ll have a nice meal with family and/or friends with plenty to drink–including whisky, of course–to toast the new year.
So, I wish you Happy Hogmanay and Happy New Year! Sláinte!